Content Provided By The Way Out West Coalition (www.wowcoalition.org), DrugFreeAz.org Community Alliance Member.
Take yourself back to the time of yearbook signings, cleaning out your desk or locker and the feeling of freedom you felt when the bell rang for thelast time for the school year. Watch out summer, here you come!
There is no denying that teenagers and children equate summer with freedom. Curfews are relaxed, everyday feels as though it is a weekend, and there is less supervision from parents due to work schedules. This reduction in supervision can lead to an increase of youth getting into trouble. According to The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, teenagers are more likely to experiment with drugs in the summer months due to boredom and spending time with friends who use drugs. In fact, across the U.S., there is a startling 40 percent increase in the number of youth who try marijuana for the first time during the months of June and July.
To put that statistic in perspective, imagine seven hundred baseball teams of teenagers, all lining up to try marijuana for the first time each summer.
Even more startling, however, is thelack of understanding about its danger. Research by The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has shown that 40 percent of teenagers believe misusing prescription medication is safer than using illegal drugs, even if they, themselves, were not prescribed the medication. In addition, one in three teens believe that there is nothing wrong with abusing prescription medications once in a while.
So, as summer approaches, and with these statistics in mind, parents need to be more involved in their teen’s life. Freedom from school does not mean freedom from responsibility, and parents can take a number of steps to ensure that this message gets through to their teenagers.
- Plan regular check-in times, but don’t rely solely on your child. Ask them to call you when they wake up, after lunch, or at a specific time of day; but this shouldn’t be the only conversation you have with them. Call your teenager(s) at different times of the day so they get the message that you want to know what they are doing.
- Team up with neighbors and the parents of your teen’s friends. It is a good idea to create a network of responsible adults that you know will be home during your work hours to help monitor your child. Also, be sure that your teen and/or younger children know who these people are, as they can also serve as emergency contacts.
- Review the daily responsibilities your teen will be expected to accomplish before they engage in other activities. (e.g., making their bed, emptying the trash, doing dishes, babysitting)
- Secure alcohol and prescription drugs around your home in a locked cabinet or storage place that your teenager cannot open.
About the Way OutWest (WOW) Coalition:
WOW exists to create a safe and unified, drug-free community in the greater Buckeye Valley and is funded by Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care through an agreement with the Arizona Department of Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services.
The WOW Coalition meets at noon the second Tuesday of every month at the Buckeye Valley Chamber of Commerce. For more information, visit: www.wowcoalition.org.
DrugFreeAz.org – The Partnership for a Drug-free America, Arizona Affiliate is a 501(c) (3) non-profit statewide organization with a volunteer board of directors. Our mission is to prevent and reduce youth drug and alcohol use through community education and awareness by providing parents, caregivers, healthcare providers, educators and others with educational tools, information and resources.
For more information, visit: www.wowcoalition.org.