NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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Keeping Your Teen Safe

high-risk decision making, Parents LEAD, underage drinking, parenting teens

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

High School Graduation and other special events are milestones in your child’s life; but they sometimes come with additional risk factors for high-risk decision making (e.g. underage drinking, unprotected sexual activity). Parents LEAD @ www.parentslead .org has some helpful advice, great information and resources to help ensure special events are safe and still fun. Here’s some of what you will find.

Tips For Keeping your Teen Safe

  • Never provide your child, or their friends, with alcohol.  Not only does it increase your child’s risk for alcohol related problems now and later in life – but you are also putting yourself at risk (for more information on ND Laws see:   http://www.parentslead.org/ND-laws.php
  • Don’t send mixed messages. Sometimes, it is thought that if you ‘supervise’ the underage drinking – you are protecting your child. This is actually a misconception: research indicates that adult-hosted parties that serve alcohol to teens do not reduce risk factors.
  • Keep them safe on the road. 2011 ND Department of Transportation data indicates that 51% of drivers involved in alcohol-related crashes in ND were 18-29 years of age.
  • Supervise. Letting teens go to an unsupervised hotel room, party or distant location like a cabin rarely ends well.  It is much easier to engage in risky behavior including using drugs and alcohol, engage in sexual activity or become a victim of an accident.
  • Negotiate. Curfews are important for teens.  During a special event, you may have to negotiate on this topic some.  Discuss what is realistic to expect during a special event.  Having a plan for the whole evening with several acceptable options is a great defense for not being pressured into going to the “drinking” party. Remind them that you will still be holding them accountable:  Say “I will be up when you get home” or “Wake me when you get home.”
  • Communicate Expectations/Hold them accountable. These events are special – but remind your teen that your family’s rules still apply.  Use these special events to reinforce your messages about leading a healthy lifestyle, your expectations and consequences for breaking rules. Talk about the consequences of underage drinking and being in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver.
  • Help your son or daughter plan for the types of situations that may present on the night of this special event. 
  • Talk to the parents of their friends and make sure you are all getting the same story about the plans.
  • When entertaining youth make sure you have plenty of food, non-alcoholic beverages and adults available but not part of the party.
  • Get some rest… you will likely be keeping the same (late) hours as your teen during special events. This is just a ‘perk’ of being a parent – ENJOY!

Most importantly, show your teen unconditional love so that he knows you support him even when he makes mistakes.

As your student transitions into college life, they will face many choices about the kind of life they want to live. The consequences of these decisions will directly impact the success of their academic and personal goals.

Source: www.parentslead.org

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