Tips, Tools To Keep Youth Healthy, Drug Free

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Today's teens have numerous methods to trick their parents and keep their social behavior secret from their home life. Everyday items such as cell phones, cameras and after-school gatherings and social functions can help teens shield their drug or alcohol use from parents and caregivers. And according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, many parents have a difficult time talking with kids about drugs and alcohol or having ongoing conversations on the subject. Today, it is crucial that parents never underestimate their teenagers, ask questions about friends and after-school activities and talk openly with their children about the risks of substance abuse.

The Partnership's new nationwide parent movement, Time To Talk celebrates the tremendous influence parents have on the decisions their children make for themselves. TimeToTalk.org provides parents and caregivers with the resources they want and need to protect their children and understand their behavior. Maintaining an open dialogue with children throughout their teen years is a key component in keeping them safe, healthy and drug free.

Exclusive access to "Top Ten Ways Teens Trick Their Parents" and other useful tips to understanding and decoding teenage behavior are available by registering at TimeToTalk.org. Some cautionary behavior parents should look for include:

Sleep-Over Sneak Outs: Although you may be home when your teen has friends sleep-over, it's possible that while you're sound asleep your "guests" are sneaking out of your house to either walk somewhere else or be picked up in a car down the street to go to a party.

Turning Water into Wine: An old trick -- your teen steals alcohol from your liquor cabinet and then, if necessary, makes up the difference in the bottle's volume by adding water.

After-School Freedom: After school when you are still at work, your child and his friend might congregate at your empty house and do as they please until you arrive home. A few hours is plenty of time to experiment.

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When the Cat is Away ... : Your teen insists on going to a friend's house for the night when you're going out for the evening. Once you've left, your teen returns home to your unsupervised house with a group of friends. (Watch out for: holidays, anniversaries and other special occasions.)

The Cameo Appearance: When attending a school dance, your teen is allowed to leave the dance at any point in the evening. Why is this a problem? Many couples will take their picture at the dance to prove that they attended and then go to an empty house to party.

For a complete list of helpful signs to understanding teen behavior and access to prevention tips and tools to help get the conversation started with your teen this month, visit TimeToTalk.org.

Research from the Partnership has consistently found that kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs, yet only 31 percent of kids report learning about the risks of drugs at home. Research also shows that by 8th grade, many kids have been exposed to tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and inhalants and a significant number of middle-schoolers have already been exposed to dangerous substances such as Ecstasy, cocaine, or heroin. With access to conversation starters and a supportive online parent forum where parents can connect and share experiences with parents in similar situations, TimeToTalk.org empowers parents to take an active role in prevention.

"Many parents want to trust their children and let them experience freedom during their teen years, but in today's world, every parent should be as involved and aware as they can be of everything that is going on in their children's lives," said Partnership Parent Partner, Sandra Carcamo. "My kids' needs are constantly changing and sometimes I don't know the exact right thing to do or say. And as my children get older I know there will be new challenges that we will have to face together as a family. But what I do know is that now there are resources to help parents deal with these tough issues. These tools can help parents to face these challenges. The knowledge and information we share with our children empowers them to make the right decisions."

According to data from the 2006 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), nearly one-third of parents say they have a need for more information about drugs; 30 percent say they need tips on how to start a discussion about drugs; 37 percent reported they want information on how to tell if a child is using drugs. A growing number of parents don't just want information; they want advice on what to do and best approaches to having open and honest conversations with their kids.

TimeToTalk.org provides parents helpful tips and tools to begin these conversations as well as the encouragement to help parents keep it going over the long haul. Parents can sign up for free monthly newsletters and gain access to tools such as, Top Ten Ways Teens Trick Their Parents, Tips for Getting the Conversation Started, How to Tell If Your Teen is Drinking or Using Drugs and Answering the Question: "Did You Do Drugs?" Insightful, timely and relevant content and resources are updated and added frequently. The site also links to Time To Talk's Yahoo! Groups, an online parent forum that enables parents to connect and share advice with one another.

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