with Dr. Bennett Sherman
Q: What type of doctor are
Dr. Sherman: Pediatrician. I take care of all the
problems that little children have from birth to
sometimes high school and college.
Q: How long have you practiced
Dr. Sherman: I practiced from the time I was an
intern in 1946, and then I went in the army and I was
an army doctor. Before that I interned and I was a
resident in pediatrics taking care of children. When I
was in the army all the army people who had children
would come and see me. Then I came out into practice
seeing children who were private patients of mine.
That was in 1952, so actually I've been a doctor with
children since 1946, about 57 years. I was in my own
practice with children since 1952 until November of
2002, 50 years. That's a long time.
Q: What changes have you seen in
kids' use of drugs and alcohol from the time that you
began practicing medicine?
Dr. Sherman: When I first started, it was very
rare for children to take any medicines that were not
prescribed by doctors. A few naughty children that
came from bad homes or homes where the parents didn't
take care of them, got wild and would play with other
kids that got wild and didn't have any control by
their parents and did a lot of naughty things just to
have fun. They thought they couldn't hurt anybody.
They ended up hurting themselves and they ended up
hurting other people and they ended up hurting their
parents. When I first started it was very rare for
children to be drinking or taking any drugs that
weren't prescribed by doctors. There was very little
smoking, because we kind of knew that it wasn't a very
good thing to do.
Q: Do you think the percentage
has gone up?
Dr. Sherman: Oh, yes. I would say that when I went
to college, you rarely ever saw a kid smoke a
cigarette. In the 50's, 60's and 70's, a lot of the
kids were smoking and drinking and taking a lot of bad
drugs, just to have a good time and not thinking about
what could happen to them. Their parents were kind of
permissive. They didn't want to aggravate the children
or they thought the children wouldn't love them if
they became strict parents.
Nowadays you are seeing a lot more
children doing things on their own, as if they are
really their own bosses. Really they are not thinking
of what's happening in society. The society frowns on
kids that are not living up to the law and living up
to their potential and living up to what their parents
and teachers would like them to do. They just don't
have the responsibility in many cases, and the parents
are very permissive. Permissive means letting a child
do anything. Many parents are afraid to try and
control their children. They are afraid that if they
try to control them too much, the child will run away
or just won't listen and will do the things that will
get them in trouble. There is a lot more drinking and
Q: What would you tell kids who
think drinking or taking drugs like
cocaine, marijuana, or heroin is not very
Dr. Sherman: I would try to show them the bad
effects by showing them some movies about what drugs
do. Then I would also show them what happens to kids
who have taken drugs. I would show them some of the
pictures of what these kids end up doing by driving a
car when they are drunk and killing somebody. Getting
a gun and not realizing how powerful a gun is or how a
drink or drugs can destroy your body is something else
to discuss. The drugs you are taking make you lose
your good judgment.
If you take a drink, after awhile,
you suddenly get very dizzy and then you get
light-headed and you think, "Oh, there's nothing to
worry about" and maybe take another drink. Before you
know it, you've taken too many drinks and you can
become unconscious or even die. The same with all
drugs. So, I would talk to them first, but then I
would show them some movies of what the effect would
be by taking drugs incorrectly.
Q: Kids use a lot of caffeine to
keep up with hectic schedules. What would you tell
kids about the effects of caffeine?Dr. Sherman:
Again, it's like another drug. It's a stimulant and
keeps you up. A lot of kids think they have to take it
to study, like if they have an exam they will study
all night and drink caffeine all night. Then they get
the rebound of the caffeine and when they take the
exam they are so nervous they can't even think
straight and so I don't think it's wise to drink a
caffeine drink. Again, I would show them an animal
experience...what happens when animals take too much
caffeine and what it does to their heart and their
lungs and to their brain. I would tell them that if
you study correctly and you get your rest when you
should, and you study every day and you do your work
every day, then you don't have to take caffeine for
two days before an exam, so you can learn it all in a
real short time. You will forget it if you use
caffeine to learn that way. Caffeine is not the best
drug to take.
Q: What are some other health
issues you think that kids face?
Dr Sherman: I think they have to appreciate that their
body is the most important thing in their existence.
Your family has a car, and if they want that machine
to work it has to be kept in good condition. A person
has a body and it has to be taken care of with good
nutrition, good food, and if you don't take care of
that body, it starts breaking down, just like a car.
Your body needs good fluids,
protein, minerals, vitamins, and carbohydrates and
some fatty materials. If you don't do that, you don't
reach your potential as far as your brain is
concerned. People should eat properly, they should
have enough calories in a day. They shouldn't starve
themselves just to be skinny, and they shouldn't eat
too much so they get fat and then they are unhappy
Q: Is there anything else you
would like to tell kids about drugs or alcohol that
you didn't mention already?
Dr. Sherman: Only that children should realize
that they are responsible for their body. They can
blame their parents and they can blame everybody else,
but if they take the drugs and they've been shown not
to, then they are going to have to pay the penalty of
what happens to them. A lot of kids do it and then
they cry to their parents for help, but they need to
realize that it was their fault to begin with and
they've got to change their behavior.
Q: Thank you for talking with
me, Dr. Sherman.