The National Safety Commission Alerts

Safety is No Accident. Visit the National Safety Commission - America's Safety Headquarters for driver safety information, auto recalls and teen safe driver tips.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Teens Without Parental Supervision More Likely to Abuse Drugs and Alcohol

Studies show that teens who have no parental supervision are four times more likely to abuse drugs than those who are supervised, so it's worthwhile for parents to be vigilant even while they're in the process of allowing their teens to increase their level of independence. Here are some tips for parents, including actions to take and what to watch out for to ensure teens' safety.

Know your teen's friends.
Insist on meeting your teen's friends. When your teen gets together with friends at your house, introduce yourself and ask questions. If your teen seems reluctant to make introductions, offer rides to and from events or host your teen's friends for dinner, for movie night, or to play video games. Make your home an attractive hangout spot for teens by offering plenty of snacks and age-appropriate activities.

Be alert to friends your teen doesn't seem to want you to meet. Be mindful to changes in his or her social circle, too. When teens change friends, it may signal trouble. If something doesn’t seem right to you, do something about it quickly.

Take action if you don't like your teen's friends.
Do you suspect your teen's friends abuse drugs or alcohol? Do they treat your teen poorly? Do they seem to be using your teen? Are there personality conflicts? If you suspect that a friend is a bad influence, no matter what the reason, don't wait to take action. Talk to your son or daughter, air your concerns and expectations, keep a closer watch on them, and, if necessary, encourage your teen to connect with a new circle of friends.

Meet your teen's friends' parents.
Other parents can tell you a great deal about their teen and help you keep closer tabs on yours. To share information about how your teens behave, such as what they like to do and any changes you’ve noticed, consider calling or getting together with other parents on a regular basis.

Use your discussions with your teen's friends' parents to determine whether or not their values, particularly with regard to underage drinking and level of supervision, are similar to yours. Be alert to indicators that other parents aren't providing much supervision, such as your teen wanting to spend most of their time with friends at another parent's home. Volunteer to help chaperon parties and outings as often as possible.

Know where your teen spends his or her time.
If there's an emergency, knowing where your child can be found is crucial. Plus, knowing the environment they're in will help you make informed decisions about which influences (good and bad) your teen is being exposed to. If you do not approve of where your teen spends time with friends, find alternatives: your house, a friend's or relative's house, church or temple youth groups, a clubhouse or after-school program, and other places with a trusted adult in charge.

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The National Safety Commission, Inc.
PO Box 3359
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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