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Teen Rage; What Causes Early Puberty in Girls?
Aired April 27, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: So here we are.
Should we just leave Lindsay Lohan alone? I don`t think you know what you`re seeing there. I will explain.
Then, teen rage. Why are so many of our kids so angry?
Plus, should girls be maturing at age 4, 5, and 6? Moms at home, this is what you need to know about your daughters.
And reality star Tabatha Coffey reveals her inner -- well, let`s go going.
First of all, a bit of business. Those of you that have been supporting me through my cup caper, my crew here presented me with a present that was supposed to be the answer to my problem. I`m not sure this is exactly what I had in mind.
But nice try, guys. Well done.
Can I throw this again? Let`s see where it ends up. This one might break.
All right. Now on to more important things.
You guys can`t seem to get enough of Lindsay Lohan, so I want to address something that happened last night with her. She was on "The Tonight Show," and she talked to Jay Leno, and she was addressing her behavior. And I want to give you my sort of thoughts on what I think I was seeing there.
She owned up to making some bad choices. She claims she turned her life around. We`ve heard that before from her. Here`s what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSAY LOHAN, ACTRESS: I`m not a kid anymore. I`m 24. I`ve made a lot of mistakes, and I recognize that, but I`m in the clear now.
And I feel like as long as I stay focused, then I will be able to achieve what I want to achieve. I`m a big girl. And I`m going to do what I`m told to do, and that`s what I have to do to, you know, continue with working in my life. And I`m taking responsibility.
I have let a lot of my fans down by putting myself in situations when I was young and wasn`t thinking clearly. And I really just want to be the person that I aspire to be, and be the actress, and be in this industry, and make movies and do what I love to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Now, what`s fascinating to me is that I`ve heard a lot of people buzzing about that interview, saying that, oh, this is great. Isn`t is she doing well? Isn`t that wonderful, that she is owning up to her shortcomings?
And I have got to tell you, this was not my idea of reassuring interview. An addict in recovery who is talking about their career is putting the cart ahead of the horse. A person who is doing well in their recovery will only talk about today and their recovery and be grateful for that.
To be talking this soon, with all this consequences falling around her ears, to be talking about her career and her focus on her acting -- now, she may have been coached to say that. We don`t know for sure. I mean, those shows are highly produced and whatnot.
But I liked the way she was speaking two months ago, when she did an interview with "Extra" where she talked about her recovery and her focus on that. That was somebody that was doing well.
Now I`m actually rather concerned about her. Bottom line, you guys need to leave her alone. This is a girl with a serious illness. She`s going to make mistakes. She needs to focus on her sobriety. And if she gets back to work too soon, this is not going to go well, mark my words.
All right. Now I want to get on to the topic at hand here.
This just in to HLN. Today, a high schooler took a plea deal in the bullying suicide case that was just shocking. Again, every night, I talk about this, right?
Last year, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself after she was relentlessly bullied. All right. Obviously, there are too many of these stories. What we`ve got to see here is these are all about aggression and hate.
We`re going to be talking to a good Samaritan who stepped in to break up a beat-down of a transgender woman at a McDonald`s. We also a story about a high school vandalized with swastikas.
What is going on? Come on now. Watch this.
PINSKY (voice-over): Phoebe Prince was a pretty 15-year-old, excited to start a brand-new school. But the Irish immigrant suffered incessant bullying that may have led to her suicide.
Phoebe hung herself in January of 2010. Prosecutors say Phoebe`s classmates made fun about her Irish heritage, insulted her on Facebook, and threatened to beat her up. Two months after Phoebe`s death, six teens were charged with stalking, criminal harassment, and violation of Phoebe`s rights.
Seventeen-year-old Sharon Valasquez (ph) has struck a plea deal with the prosecutors. We don`t know the conditions of the deal.
Will charging teens in these types of cases stop this?
Joining us is Vicky Thoms. She tried to break up a fight that may -- well, seems to have been motivated by hate.
We also have Sam Wolfe. He`s a civil rights attorney. And with us is Dr. Johanna Olson. She specializes in adolescent medicine.
And on the phone, I have Tina Meier. Her daughter killed herself after she was bullied on MySpace.
And then, finally, Rachel Simmons. She`s the author of "Odd Girl Out" and founder of Girls Leadership Institute. She studies aggressive behavior in adolescent girls.
All right, Rachel. I`ve got a bunch of questions for you.
RACHEL SIMMONS, AUTHOR, "ODD GIRL OUT": Shoot.
PINSKY: Are we seeing a new trend of ridiculous and vile aggression, or is this something that`s always been there? What`s happening?
SIMMONS: Well, it`s not really clear what`s happening. We don`t know if it`s happening more or we`re paying more attention to it.
Remember, we used to say when girls were mean to each other, we used to say, well, that`s girls being girls. We have only started taking this behavior seriously recently.
Now, the number of arrests of adolescent girls has definitely gone up, but there is some controversy about whether or not that`s the measurements of what really constitutes an arrest or whether or not the behavior has actually changed.
PINSKY: And Rachel, is that the answer, that the legal system, that big brother has to step in to make Americans behave civilly?
SIMMONS: I think that`s part of what`s happening here, is that schools aren`t doing their jobs. Families aren`t doing their jobs. And that`s why law enforcement has been forced to step in.
I don`t think anybody wants kids being thrown behind bars for bullying. But I think it`s gotten to such a desperate point, that that`s who we have had to call on to settle these issues.
PINSKY: And Rachel, I want to tell you -- I think I told you briefly off the air, my wife read your book when my daughter was about 12 years old, and is it was stunning, how girls treat each other at age 12. Are you studying this now? Are you seeing an increase trend from the medical community perspective?
SIMMONS: You know, what we see is a huge increase in cyberbullying, which was a factor in the Phoebe Prince suicide. So we`ve seen bullying go digital, and that has increased the speed with which bullying happens and the impact, because you can forward a message and damage a reputation with a few clicks.
PINSKY: Well, the Internet is my favorite crucible to carry, because I`m just disgusted by what goes on out there.
But, Dr. Olson, is that what you`re seeing as well?
DR. JOHANNA OLSON, SPECIALIZES IN ADOLESCENT MEDICINE: Yes. I think with the introduction of the Internet making it so easy to be anonymous about bullying, or even just not face-to-face, you take away some of that peer pressure or that concern that you might otherwise have bullying someone face-to-face.
PINSKY: I`m going to say what it is. It`s increasingly cowardly. So you can be a coward and a bully. It`s awesome. It`s fantastic what we`re doing with our kids.
OLSON: I agree. And I think there are -- as many wonderful things as the Internet brings us, it also brings us this whole host of other issues that are impacting our kids. They can connect in a lot of ways, but on the other hand, they become victims in a lot of ways as well.
PINSKY: Is the medical community trying to do something to step in? Have there been studies? Is there a plan to intervene?
OLSON: I think that a lot of pediatricians are talking about what they can say to their patients as they move through adolescence about what they are doing online, and having parents kind of monitor that or having conversations about that. Because we see it impacting at all levels, not just on the personal and functional level, but as kids get older and they start putting things online that they might not necessarily want online at a later time.
PINSKY: Now, we`re seeing right here the footage that`s being shown alongside of you is this beat-down of a transgender girl at a McDonald`s. And we`re going to talk to a woman in a few minutes that intervened on this.
But before we do, I`ve got a minute here. We have been saying this for days, that this is a problem, that it`s awful, we need to talk to our kids.
Are there specific things you can tell my viewers that they can do now to assess and intervene?
OLSON: I think one really important point about this footage that we`re seeing that`s really important for people to understand is that transgender individuals are at a very high risk for --
PINSKY: So know if you`re kids are at risk. I mean, you`re an adolescent medicine specialist, so this must be a real concern for you.
PINSKY: So know if your kid`s at risk. But how can you -- let`s say you`re just an -- there`s nothing special that you know of about your kid. What should parents just monitor the Internet use of their kids? Should they be having conversations about this? What should they do today?
OLSON: I think when things come up like this on the news, where these types of incidents occur, that`s a great place to open a conversation with your kid. I think one of the things that`s astounding is that kids don`t feel that they are going to have any response from authorities if they do report this.
PINSKY: Wow. That`s interesting.
Sam, let me ask you, civil rights attorney -- you`re out in Alabama. Is the legal system the sort of last resort in this? And should it be?
SAM WOLFE, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, I think that when the legal system comes in, sometimes that`s really a sign that the overall system is broken, because the legal system, clearly, there are instances when it is appropriate and necessary to have some criminal consequences for some of these behaviors. But at the same time, all of this -- pretty much all of it really should be caught through intervention and through more of a responsible, caring community that wouldn`t tolerate these sorts of attacks and real violence of kids against kids.
PINSKY: So, interesting. You`re not just saying parents, but also the community at large needs to draw together, which is a really good point.
We don`t have communities anymore. We don`t have neighborhoods. Parents don`t trust the school. They don`t go the to schools for support. They tend to look at the school as the problem oftentimes, when it`s loaded with professionals that are there to help your kids.
When we come back, swastikas at a California high school. Here we go again. What caused three high schoolers to lash out in that fashion?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just been walking through campus, and every time I think I`m at the end of it, there`s another atrocity. I mean, this is so hurtful. And purposeless, really.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d like it if my high school was known as a tolerant school that accepted everybody. And I thought it was, and this really accepts me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get off!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That was the video of a horrendous attack at a McDonald`s in Baltimore. The state`s attorney`s office is considering this is a possible hate crime because the victim is transgender. Only one person tried to help.
Now, before I go to her, I want to mention Tina Meier, who I said would be here. She had lost her daughter to bullying. We`ve lost contact with her. I`m going to get her on the program soon, so you will be hearing from Tina.
Now I want to talk to the woman that did intervene for this poor girl that was being attacked. She is 51-year-old Vicky Thoms.
Vicky, now you were actually battered about the head yourself when you tried to stop this, right?
VICKY THOMS, TRIED TO STOP ATTACK ON TRANSGENDER WOMAN: Right. She hit me in the jaw.
PINSKY: I mean, Vicky, I`m looking at you on the satellite screen here, and you`re not exactly somebody that would threaten someone if you came in to try to break up a fight. Did they just --
PINSKY: What was going on there? We`re trying to make sense of this. Were they high on drugs? What was this?
THOMS: I don`t know. When I came in, the fight had already started. And there was a lot of screaming and yelling.
And I stood there for, like, two minutes before I decided to do anything. And I looked around and had seen the people filming this thing, and thinking to myself, why isn`t anybody helping them? And I would have done the same thing for those two girls if it would have been the other shoes.
PINSKY: Why do you think no one else stepped in?
THOMS: I think they were too busy filming it, and they were laughing and joking and telling the girls that the police were coming, get out of here. I didn`t understand it.
Dr. Olson, how do we make sense of this? And is this something just atypical, or is this a tsunami that we`re having to contend with here?
OLSON: Certainly with sexual minority people and youth, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning queer (ph) population, bullying has always been a part of their experience in this country. There was just a report that was released in 2009 --
PINSKY: OK. I don`t care about the report.
PINSKY: I want to ask tougher questions.
PINSKY: And Rachel, maybe you can help me out with this, too. Why? What is it in us that makes a human attack another human for nothing? I mean, what is the explanation for that?
OLSON: Fear. It`s fear. It`s ignorance. It`s not understanding that someone -- it`s worse than that.
It`s not attacking someone for nothing. It`s attacking who`s trying to live authentically. That`s all they are doing, and they are being attacked for that reason.
PINSKY: Rachel, do you agree?
SIMMONS: Well, I think that`s true. I think it is fear.
I also think that there`s a particular kind of social currency that you get from attacking someone who is smaller than you. I think that kids are increasingly desensitized to violence, they see it all around them. And they`re growing up in a culture that puts a lot of value on celebrity.
So, standing there and filming something has become a very natural part of kids` experience. It seems foreign to us, but they are totally desensitized to it.
PINSKY: So, our job then is to kind of make sense of this. And I have got to tell you, I get this horrible feeling when I think that it`s -- I just feel awful about it. It`s a bad feeling to think about, that kids are attacking other kids for -- really, to live authentically, because they`re fearful?
SIMMONS: Right. What I want to say here is, this is a really extreme example. But every single day all over this country kids call each other "gay" as a substitute for the word weird or stupid or lame. And when kids get comfortable using that kind of epithet that discriminates questioning sexual minority youth, it becomes that much easier to hit somebody. So this is an extreme example.
PINSKY: But listen, I don`t want to be Pollyanna here, but I have noticed -- I`ve been dealing with young people for a long time, and talking on the radio for 30 years. And I have seen them become seemingly more tolerant.
If anything, I have seen increasing tolerance, increasing acceptance. You know, there`s a cool factor even now that goes with it.
Is this the sort of residual, the vestige of something awful? Is it at-risk kids, the only way they can sort of act out their aggression? Is this just about -- I don`t know what the answer is.
OLSON: I don`t think so. I mean, at Children`s Hospital Los Angeles, we have 130 transgender youth between the ages of 4 and 25. And without exception, every one of them has had an experience or multiple experiences of being physically harassed, verbally harassed, digitally harassed.
PINSKY: You know, I`m upset about this topic, because this is one population that`s being hit. But as we have been talking about this in previous segments, the Internet is a carpet bomb. It hits everybody. And it`s more bullying going on there. So it`s not just hitting -- I mean, yes, this is a good example of a particular population that`s being isolated, but it`s not that.
There seems to be something bigger going on here. I can`t help but think that.
Am I wrong?
OLSON: I think you`re absolutely right, but I think it would take more than this show for me to go into my own personal thoughts about it. I think we`re seeing a lot of changes in the country that are not good for people`s psychic well-being.
PINSKY: Is it -- well, certainly we would all say -- Rachel, please weigh in at any time in this conversation. We`ve all said that there is obvious economic stress. We all know that. Our families are not in great shape.
Is that a big part of this?
OLSON: That`s correct.
PINSKY: Rachel, is that a big part of this?
SIMMONS: It is. I mean, I think kids are spending less time with their parents. Parents are working harder. They`re talking to each other less often.
But I do want to so, you know, if you think about what makes a guy popular -- you said you have hung out with kids for a while. What makes a guy popular? Well, he has got to be manly. He can`t be gay or feminine, or he will get in trouble.
And I don`t just mean social trouble. I mean worse than that.
The same thing for a girl. If she`s not feminine enough, she`s going to get labeled a lesbian. So there are things that have not changed at all.
PINSKY: But you know what? But I think you`re specifically talking about middle school age.
SIMMONS: Oh, no. Not in the least. I`m talking all the way up through college sororities.
OLSON: You know what I think? I think it really is bigger.
I mean, I work a lot with the sexual minority population, but I think it is actually bigger. But we also have a situation where we`ve escalated racism to a national dialogue now about our president. That says something.
That attitude and mindset trickles down to people. And especially youth. Youth are vulnerable to those kinds of messages that they see.
PINSKY: And the message is act out your aggression?
OLSON: The message was act out your aggression for eight years in this country. It was act out your aggression on another country, on several other countries. And that trickles down. And people became very - - people have become very hateful over the last decade, and I think over the last decade.
SIMMONS: Well, but you`ve also got the media, too. So let`s just talk about the epidemic reality television show culture where aggression is rewarded, where violence is constant and normal, and just a way that people interact. And you see that with the "Real Housewives" franchise, you see it on MTV shows.
This is just how people relate when they want to express themselves. If you don`t think that is going to affect kids, I mean, come on.
PINSKY: OK. So these shows are creating what we call socially normative standards? In other words, they`re making it less abnormal to behave in a horrible way? Is that right?
SIMMONS: Well, why don`t you turn on the TV when you`re an adolescent? You want to watch somebody that you admire, you want to watch somebody you think is cool.
And, plus, these reality television characters, they`re engaging, online all the time. I mean, they feel real. And kids are filming themselves and throwing up their films right on YouTube, right next to these videos of "Real Housewives" and "Teen Moms." So there`s a much a blurrier line now between kind of real life and entertainment life and real life and Internet life than there ever was before.
PINSKY: So, there`s more of a job for us to do in parents in terms of teaching them how to consume media and to consume it with them. Would you both agree with that?
SIMMONS: Absolutely. The number one things parents can do is limit their children`s use of electronic entertainment.
Just say no. Just say, "Because I said so." It should not be carte blanche, it should not be 24/7.
PINSKY: All right. I think that`s good advice.
I want to thank Rachel Simmons. I want to thank Johanna Olson, also my guest, Vicky Thoms.
Vicky, hats off to you. Great job in Baltimore. Thank God you were there. Thank you for joining us.
THOMS: Thank you.
PINSKY: And I just want to say I`m tired of having to scream about this and yell at the camera about how awful this is becoming. But, yes, I think we need to limit and consume media with our kids.
And, look, the bottom line -- somebody actually twittered me -- and here I am talking about Twitter when I`m saying limit your digital media exposure. But the following thing, which I thought was kind of prescient, which was, as parents, be -- we`ve lost track, we don`t hear this very much anymore -- be the kind of man and woman you want your kids to grow up to be. Have the kind of relationship you want them to model.
When we come back, little girls maturing at shockingly young ages. What is up with that?
PINSKY: Our next topic is generating controversy in the medical community, and it`s not even clear if this is really a trend or to what extent it is -- young girls and early puberty. Some girls are maturing at a very young age.
So, the question is, what`s causing it now? Is it more prevalent than it was 50 years ago? Parents, we`ve got information.
Joining me is "Dr. Duke," we`re going to call him.
Because, I`m sorry, I cannot pronounce your last name.
He`s a pediatric endocrinologist.
And Laura Christian (ph). Her daughter showed signs of puberty at age 4 and a half. And we have her daughter Cindy (ph). She is here with us today. They will be telling us their story.
But in all likelihood, we`re going to get their story after the break, because we have got a lot to sort through on this topic.
I want to talk to Dr. Duke first, and I want you all to understand something. The way this is reported in the media is typically very inaccurate. And I really want to try to get this right for people, so we have got to sort out a few things.
And Dr. Duke, you`re going to help me with this.
There are three aspects of puberty, let`s call it. And they`re not all the same things.
One is pubarche -- correct me if I`m wrong, Dr. Duke -- which is the onset of pubic hair development. There is puberty, which his breast development, typically, which is one of the signs -- a primary sign of puberty. And then there is menarche, which is the onset of the menstrual period.
These are three different phenomenon. They are biologically different. And they`re always reported in the press as the same thing.
So, first business at hand is, this patient we`re going to talk to has a medical problem related to premature puberty.
Is that correct?
DR. PISIT PITUKCHEEWANONT, "DR. DUKE," PEDIATRIC ENDOCRINOLOGIST: That`s correct.
PINSKY: OK. And that`s different from the trend that may be happening in this country and worldwide for premature puberty.
PINSKY: Or earlier puberty. That`s not even correct.
PINSKY: Go ahead.
PITUKCHEEWANONT: Early puberty is a condition that you have breast development, but not necessary that all of those patients need to be treated.
PINSKY: Right. And so the question now we`re going to try to address is, is early puberty, which is the breast development -- not menarche, which is menstrual period, which everyone seems to go into -- and by the way, I was talking to people who were physically eating organic foods and all this nonsense to avoid estrogens, which are really not the culprit here. Are they?
PINSKY: It`s not even an issue, so stop it with this nonsense. It is really the puberty which is more the adrenal gland function. Is that correct?
PITUKCHEEWANONT: The adrenal gland is pubic hair.
PINSKY: Pubic hair. OK.
And so the breast development, correct me if I`m wrong, but a lot of the research is showing that the puberty, which is the breast bud development, is for the most part related to obesity?
PITUKCHEEWANONT: Yes. If you have obesity, you tend to develop actual puberty earlier.
PINSKY: OK. And we all know, I think everyone is aware, that obesity is an issue in this country.
And, again, I want to differentiate what we`re talking about here from what, say, Cindy (ph) has, which is not obesity, which is a medical condition of early puberty. And strangely, that`s the one that`s created the news hook (ph) which is unrelated to the bigger picture that people seem to get so excited about.
OK. So puberty early is related to obesity.
Anything else it`s related to?
PITUKCHEEWANONT: Lots of factors that can trigger the puberty. And most of the time that we need to know that what is causing it. The majority of the time that girls start puberty, especially the ages of 6 to 8, the majority of them did not have any abnormality.
PINSKY: So it`s what we call idiopathic.
PINSKY: It just is happening early for reasons that we can`t explain.
PINSKY: I remember 10, 15 years ago, a bunch of -- a series of studies on Romanian orphans who had been severely deprived and had had early onset puberty.
Is there any theory that childhood deprivation and stress may be part of the culprit here?
PITUKCHEEWANONT: There have been some studies shown that stress can trigger the early onset of puberty as well, but we don`t really know that.
PINSKY: OK. I`ve got to stop you. OK. But I`m going to stop you because we`re going to keep this conversation going.
We`re going to answer your questions about kids and puberty when we get back.
* PINSKY: We are talking about girls and early puberty, and I very much wanted to do this topic today because, as you`re seeing, I know my audience can get their head around complicated issues. The fact is, the reality of this topic is much more complex than it`s typically reported in the press. So, people are running out and getting organic food and fearful of estrogens in the food.
That`s not the issue. It`s not even the issue. So, just see what you can learn here today. I`ve got a pediatric endocrinologist to help me out, Dr. Duke. Also Laura Christian and her daughter, Cindy, who showed signs of puberty at age 4 1/2. Now, again, that`s a medical problem at that age, but she`s been dealing with the emotional effects, and we`re going to talk about that. So, first, I want to define precocious puberty.
And again, that`s medical disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, it`s when somebody`s body begins changing from a child to an adult too soon. Puberty that begins before the age of eight for girls and before the age of nine for boys.
And Dr. Duke, as you said, once you evaluate somebody, you`re looking for adrenal diseases and central nervous system disorders, once you satisfy yourself as not a treatable medical condition, you say sometimes you can just let it run, and sometimes, you have to intervene.
DR. PISIT PITUKCHEEWANONT, "DR. DUKE", PEDIATRIC ENDOCRINOLOGIST: When those patients present to me, and we cannot -- first of all, we need to think that, you know, is this considered to be normal or abnormal. Now, girls start breast development at the age from six to eight years old. And the question is, how rapid progression of this puberty?
So, besides, I do the blood test to evaluate the pubertal status by looking at the hormone levels and also look at the bone x-ray. This bone x-ray to looking at the bone maturation to see that how far advanced of those puberty effects on specific patients.
PINSKY: So, the idea is if your bones are closing rapidly, you might want to stop the puberty, even though, you don`t need medically to be sure they don`t close their growth plates and end up in short stature.
PINSKY: Shorter than they should be.
PITUKCHEEWANONT: Right. Because the thing is that, sometimes, patients come in at six years old. You look at the bone x-ray. If it`s 6 years old, we can wait a little bit.
PITUKCHEEWANONT: But if it`s nine, maybe it`s too fast. So, we need to slow it down maybe or stop the puberty.
PINSKY: Got it. Now, Laura, when you first noticed this in your daughter, what did you think?
LAURA CHRISTIAN, DAUGHTER WENT INTO EARLY PUBERTY: I was very taken aback and was surprised, because that was not something that I had had experience with at all.
PINSKY: I`ve actually dealt with patients that have these kinds of changes that occur in infancy. I`m sure you`ve seen that as an endocrinologist. And it`s usually the parents don`t know what to make of it. They`re sort of bewildered. And I understand you went to a lot of doctors.
CHRISTIAN: The area that we live in. I immediately took her within probably three months of noticing that she started to develop certain signs and took her to the doctor, and --
PINSKY: What were the signs?
CHRISTIAN: Hair growth and body odor, mood swings mostly, eventually, by the time that we ended up finally being able to be seen by Children`s Hospital L.A., she had actually started doing the breast development, as well. And so, it was rather frustrating because I was -- one parent that`s actually being --
CHRISTIAN: Proactive about it, and watching, and saw it, and then went and had to push really to get to the point where I could get anywhere near a diagnostic tools because there`s none where we are.
PINSKY: Did you deny it at first?
PINSKY: OK. You immediately knew there was a medical problem.
PINSKY: And were you worried? Because I`m sure people started talking about what`s called androgenizing tumors and things at the beginning.
PINSKY: You usually -- not going to say usually, but not uncommonly, that is what causes this, tumors.
PITUKCHEEWANONT: Especially younger --
PINSKY: Younger ages.
PINSKY: So, that must have been very scary.
CHRISTIAN: Very scary. And watching your little one not be a little one for very long, and that was -- and as I look back, seeing from when she was born, that had been evidently something that had been progressing because she grew way too fast.
PINSKY: And now, Cindy, I`m going to turn to you. Do you remember this whole experience?
CINDY: Yes, I did.
PINSKY: What do you think about it now?
CINDY: I think that it`s OK, because I`m not -- I`m more used to it now.
PINSKY: When it was happening, what did you think about it?
CINDY: I was kind of scared because I didn`t know what was going to happen.
PINSKY: Was having to see all these doctors and being -- your mom being worried, did that have an impact on you? I`m sure it must.
CINDY: Yes, because I didn`t -- I wasn`t sure about it, and I didn`t know it was going to happen or anything.
PINSKY: Cindy, how old are you now?
CINDY: I`m nine.
PINSKY: Nine. And let me ask you this, did the other children notice what was happening to you and were they unkind?
PINSKY: Nobody else seemed to know about it?
CINDY: Just one of my friends at school.
PINSKY: So, you shared it with her?
PINSKY: And what did she think? What was her reaction?
CINDY: She was thinking that we should share what we have been doing so we wouldn`t be afraid.
PINSKY: So, she was very helpful to you, huh?
CHRISTIAN: This young lady also has the same issue going on. She is being treated by children`s hospital for the same exact issue.
PINSKY: Oh, how interesting. A cluster. Do you see clusters of this?
PITUKCHEEWANONT: Actually, I got a referral from a different family who were friends. So, they refer friends to us.
PINSKY: But I`m actually honestly asking that question. Does it happen in clusters? Are people studying clusters around the country? Or is it just one of those random events?
PITUKCHEEWANONT: I would say it was random event more than just a cluster.
PINSKY: Random event. Do you have anything you like to say to parents out there now who either, A, may be seeing changes in their kids and what to do about it, or, B, are just concerned about puberty at a young age?
CHRISTIAN: Particularly, be proactive and be observing as much as you can of your children, both female and male, obviously. Our chief concern as parents, obviously, was her health and well-being.
PINSKY: Of course.
CHRISTIAN: But wanting to really make certain that the early onset of any of these types of symptoms would not interfere with her development and/or her self-esteem and emotional well-being.
PINSKY: Which I think is the issue as we begin to address this topic. Let me show you a little bit of data here. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average age of puberty for girls -- remember, not menarche but puberty in 1800 was 18 above. I hope I differentiate those two things for you because everyone thinks puberty means menstrual period which --
PITUKCHEEWANONT: Breast development.
PINSKY: Breast development. Menarche is later was 18. in 1960 was 14. Today, it is 11. Now, my understanding, Dr. Duke, is most of that is because of good nutrition?
PINSKY: Is that right? So, we`re seeing health benefits there for the most part. Is that true?
PITUKCHEEWANONT: You can say that in a way, because most of the time that as you know that obesity is a driving force of children --
PINSKY: Well, might we say that we`ve gone too far? So, at 14, probably is a reasonable age for puberty, but 11 suggest we`ve gone too far with our nutrition. We`re overfeeding.
PITUKCHEEWANONT: You know what? I think we can not really draw a conclusion that nutrition, that`s main important factor, to push or, you know, who -- you know, make menarche start earlier. But I think it`s multiple factors, which is again, we can go into details about the, you know, chemicals, environmental factors, some of that can be a part of it.
PINSKY: So, let`s state that again. So, puberty is happening earlier. Proper nutrition is part of why it`s dropped. The fact that it`s dropped to such an extreme extent may have to do with obesity, but it has a serious of other very complicated neurobiological factors, right? Insulin resistance, one of the things that sort of comes up once in a while.
PITUKCHEEWANONT: That is usually associated with obesity.
PINSKY: Which is part of the obesity story, but we`re not talking about exogenous estrogens or things from the outside world, are we?
PITUKCHEEWANONT: This is one thing that a lot of researchers have been looking to it. This exogenous estrogen, another terminology we call, endocrine disrupter, as I told you before. Now, a lot of studies are looking to exogenous substances --
PINSKY: Think from the outside.
PITUKCHEEWANONT: That may have a major impact, because those substances have the estrogen effect, which can create pretty much that, you know --
PINSKY: And we haven`t found that thing yet.
PITUKCHEEWANONT: We do have some studies showing some of those chemicals.
PINSKY: They`re not in the food? Are they out there all over the place? Do we need to worry about it?
PITUKCHEEWANONT: A lot of study could example, you know, one of the small studies in Puerto Rico years ago.
PINSKY: I got to be out of here in 10 seconds. Go.
PITUKCHEEWANONT: OK. So, anyway, they`re looking at that. They found some phthalates which is -- have been shown only 68 percent of those girls who have puberty early.
PINSKY: All right. I`m going to have to put up on the internet as something what that`s chemical is.
When we come back, the hairdresser who tells us like it is. Tabatha Coffey. She stars in "Tabatha`s Salon Takeover." She`s next.
PINSKY: Earlier, I spoke with Tabatha Coffey. Now, she`s known for her strong arm tactics to say the least on Bravo`s "Tabatha`s Salon Takeover," but she says it`s not about the hair, and she`s got a new show in the works "Tabatha Takes Over." Now, Tabatha does not hold back. I think you guys know that. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): This is the Tabatha you know.
TABATHA COFFEY, AUTHOR "IT`S REALLY NOT ABOUT THE HAIR": I actually know why this place is called bang because you want to get a gun and shoot yourself.
PINSKY: This is the Tabatha you don`t know. And Tabatha, well, she has a message you need to know. From the humblest of beginnings to the highest peaks of success, she took obstacles that would have thrown any other kid into a life of turmoil and turned them into assets. Now, she`s here to share that triumphant experience with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Here is her new book. It is "It`s Really Not about the Hair," and I had the opportunity to read the book. She says it`s about getting in touch with here what she calls her inner bitch. Tabatha Coffey, welcome.
COFFEY: Thank you.
PINSKY: So, who is your inner bitch? Who is she?
COFFEY: She`s me. She`s who I am. I think everyone called me a bitch for such a long time, so I came up with an acronym for bitch, and I`m not a bitch. I`m just incredibly honest.
PINSKY: You sang a little bit like (INAUDIBLE) if there`s an acronym for bitch. LET`S hear it, though.
COFFEY: OK. Brave, intelligent, tenacious, creative, and honest.
PINSKY: I got to tell you something. I read your book, and there was a lot of -- first -- tell me about your childhood because What I was going to say was there`s a lot of anger in there, I noticed.
PINSKY: In the book. You don`t strike me as an angry person, which is interesting. And I expected you to be kind of angry given how I perceive you in the salon series, but tell us first about the childhood. It was unconventional.
COFFEY: It was unconventional, for sure. I grew up -- my parents had strip clubs in Australia.
PINSKY: They weren`t really strip clubs.
COFFEY: Well, they`re not like strip clubs like the pole dancing strip clubs in America. They were more of burlesque kind of shows. So, they had clubs, girls, yes, took their clothes off. Most the girls taking their clothes off were actually boys. So, they were drag queens.
PINSKY: So, was it like, you know, impersonators job?
COFFEY: No. People thought that they were women, and some had sex changes and some were pending (ph) sex changes, and some taped themselves. Dr. Drew, you look so confused.
PINSKY: I need a black board always for this stuff. My poor feeble mind can`t follow where all the parts are going. But your parents owned the strip clubs. This was their business?
COFFEY: That was their business.
PINSKY: And they got eventually into sort of organized crime kind of stuff?
COFFEY: Well, they were in partnership with a mob boss in Australia, so --
PINSKY: And did any of that affect you, do you think, being around all that?
COFFEY: I don`t think so. I think I`m very well adjusted. I mean, yes, it was very unconventional, and it`s not a normal childhood, although, what`s one`s definition of normal?
PINSKY: Well, you were an overweight kid.
COFFEY: I was more than overweight, yes.
PINSKY: Were you taken advantage of or abused for that?
COFFEY: Oh, I was teased all the time. I mean, children were horrible. I would go to the swimming pool, and they would call me orca. They would, you know, talk about every time I ate, what I was eating. It was --
COFFEY: Children are mean, sadly, you know? And when you`re the different child or, you know, the one that doesn`t look the norm, and I wasn`t normal. I was this fat little kid. Yes, I was teased all the time. And I went to an all girls school, so it was even worse.
PINSKY: Girls are brutal on each other, middle school, in particular.
COFFEY: Yes, absolutely.
PINSKY: And then, you were also dealing with an alcoholic father.
COFFEY: I was.
PINSKY: And that came later? The alcoholism got out of control?
COFFEY: It was very bingeing, to be honest. He was very -- you never knew what day it was going to happen, but you knew that the personality would change, and it could literally change in a second. It could change with one drink, and you would see it change.
PINSKY: Well, it`s interesting, in your book, you reference him as a Jekyll & Hyde character, and there are people who have theorized that story was about an alcoholic. I mean, thinking about reaching for the drink --
COFFEY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, look, I could see it. I would see with my father. He was very well put together and very intelligent and buttoned up in a way. And honestly, one drink, the man would totally change. And I would see that as a child.
PINSKY: And eventually, he left.
COFFEY: He did leave. He disappeared. I mean, he didn`t leave in a conventional way. He literally went to work in the morning, called my mom, and said come pick me up early. What`s for dinner? My mother came and picked me up from school, said, your father called. He wants to come home early. We`re having roast chicken. We`re on the way to get him, and he was gone.
PINSKY: And then, as I read in your book as well, your mother was not exactly welcoming and embracing about your sexual orientation.
COFFEY: No, not at all. You know, it was really surprising for me, because having the childhood I had and growing up with, you know, drag queens and being surrounded by a lot of gay people, and, you know, it was astounding to me that my mother wasn`t accepting of me. And I think a lot of people struggle with that.
PINSKY: Of course.
COFFEY: And that`s something that I definitely wanted to talk about. There`s so much bullying with young people and them feeling like they can`t come out, and they don`t know what to do. And it`s something that you have to work through. And, you know, for me, it was -- I came out, and then I went back in for a minute. And then I came out and I was like, you know what? This is who I am.
PINSKY: You dated men?
COFFEY: I did.
PINSKY: You tried to be straight?
COFFEY: I did.
COFFEY: And that was really for my mother. That was for my mother`s benefit of trying to please her. And, I realized that I may be able to please her, but I would never please myself. I wouldn`t be happy, and that`s what is most important.
PINSKY: What do you recommend for any young people out there struggling with this issue in terms of coming out? Is there a strategy they should follow from your point of view?
COFFEY: I think you have to be really honest with yourself. I think it`s such a confusing time. And you want to come out, and you want the acceptance, and that always isn`t there. And I truly think you have to accept yourself first. You have to be really comfortable with who you are and follow your own heart. And I think that truly does make a difference.
PINSKY: How about this? Here`s what I tell young people. First of all, assess the reality of what`s likely to happen, and it may not be pretty. It may not be nice. But make sure you have adequate support around you of not just good friends --
PINSKY: But other young people who`ve been through this experience.
COFFEY: Absolutely. I mean, I think support system is incredibly huge. And it`s something that so many young people struggle with now, and you need to -- as trite as it sounds, it really does get better. It really does, but you do need the support there.
PINSKY: To get through that horrible transition.
PINSKY: All right. We`ve only got about another minute here. We`re going to talk much more to you in the next segment, but how did you get through all of that? How did you turn all of that chaos into assets? In two questions --
PINSKY: Interpersonally, because having been through that kind of personal chaos often makes for difficulty in interpersonal experiences, and I`ll just say real happiness comes in our relationships, I think.
PINSKY: And then, also, in your career. Start with the career. How did you turn all that into an asset?
COFFEY: Career, I do something that I love. I`m madly in love with my career. So, for me, it`s very easy. That is my escape. It`s who I am. I`m lucky enough to have found a career for me that I truly adore.
PINSKY: I think you actually had some guidelines for people out there in terms of committing themselves to a career, because it sounds like you, but for the grace of God, found something.
PINSKY: And then, you got passionately involved with it.
COFFEY: And not everyone is so lucky, and I realize that.
PINSKY: Exactly. So, how does somebody that maybe less clear find it?
COFFEY: I think it`s really evaluating what you like.
PINSKY: And what you don`t like, as well.
COFFEY: And what you don`t like.
COFFEY: And I say, you know, if you could do anything, if there was no money, you know, no family to take care of, what is it that you would do? What would make you get out of bed and go do it?
PINSKY: All right. We`re going to talk more with Tabatha, and I want to get into the relationship issues. That`s where it gets a little dicey, sometimes, when we come back, but first, here`s a look at her tough side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COFFEY: I`m embarrassed to be in here. So, we`re going to start to change it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). She hasn`t dealt with me yet.
COFFEY: I`m sorry
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Let`s relax.
COFFEY: Don`t tell me to relax one more time. I actually know why this place is called bang because you want to get a gun and shoot yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COFFEY: If you want to throw money away, come on over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can jam that one up your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) today.
COFFEY: What have you accomplished today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apparently nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I`m doing nothing right.
COFFEY: You have to be absolutely off your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rocker. I`m asking to you speak to me like a hairdresser.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t want to do this.
COFFEY: I`m trying to help you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COFFEY: What`s wrong with your finger?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cut it the other day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s difficult to hold sections properly with a Band-Aid on.
COFFEY: You are kidding me, right? You have to be absolutely off your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rocker. I`m sorry. Part of our job, OK, is we cut ourselves. So, for you to say that you can`t hold a section of hair because you cut your finger the other day, that is the most ridiculous bloody excuse I`ve ever heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That is Tabatha Coffey in action on Bravo`s "Tabatha`s Salon Takeover." Now, one of the things I wanted to ask you about was anger and do you lose the ability to read other people`s feelings when you`re angry like that and impassioned?
COFFEY: Absolutely not. That`s why I get angry, because I am so vested in these businesses and so vested in these people, and I believe they can be better and do better. That`s what actually makes me lose my temper.
PINSKY: You went through a lot in your family life. And often that makes people blame the world. That`s what I deal with all the time is they have difficulty introspecting and changing what they can change, which is what`s in them. You seem to have that capacity.
COFFEY: Yes. I`m very lucky. I am very good at reading myself and checking in with myself.
PINSKY: And changing?
COFFEY: I believe in checking in with myself, and seeing how I feel, and, yes, changing.
PINSKY: And has any of that family origin stuff impacted on your relationships?
COFFEY: It really hasn`t. You know what? I was so blessed that my mother was honestly so strong and kept it together through all of the turmoil of my father leaving, and, you know, a childhood that, yes, was unusual, but she was so strong, and there was a lot of affection, and a lot of love, and I never had that feeling of abandonment or things that I know a lot of people would go through given the situation that I grew up in with my father disappearing like that.
PINSKY: Is it accurate to say that that stable attachment to mom got you through?
COFFEY: Oh, for sure. Absolutely. You know, she was definitely a rock and an anchor and all of those things and absolutely made sure that I got through, and I saw her get through. So, she was a very good role model.
PINSKY: Did she eventually get a stable relationship with a man?
COFFEY: She did. She did.
PINSKY: And, again, just to be clear, there`s a lot of people out there that go, oh, my mother was there for me and she was keeping the family together, but they still don`t always have that kind of stable emotional attunement to their kids. Is there anything your mother did that we can sort of tell other people about that really helped the kids get through that chaos? Any way or ability she had?
COFFEY: You know, she was incredibly honest. And I`m very grateful for it. And that`s why I am so honest is because my mother was always very honest. My father had an affair. My mother came and told me. And most people wouldn`t do that to a child, but for me, it was always I knew that I could trust her, and I knew she included me in what was going on.
PINSKY: And when she would tell you something like that, would she go, we`ll deal with it, we`ll pass it, or would she be with you while you had whatever feelings you had?
COFFEY: She would always be there to help me, to help me work through it, but she always -- she would help me work through it, but she always had that now let`s move on. This isn`t going to drag us down. Let`s move on and get through this.
PINSKY: So, it`s resiliency.
PINSKY: Resiliency. So, if we had to bottle you for other people that want to get some of what you`ve got, I would say read the book, first of all, but then, we`d also say resiliency and attuning to the people you love, being present for them, not --
COFFEY: Yes, absolutely.
PINSKY: Not hiding feelings from them. Let them come out and just be with them when they work them through.
COFFEY: Yes, absolutely.
PINSKY: Tabatha, thank you for joining us.
COFFEY: Thank you.
PINSKY: I really appreciate you being here. Good luck with the book, and thank all of you for watching. We`ll see you next time.