I know a lot of parents are forced to work and over the summer, having teens with compelte freedom can be scary.Â I've searched and found various articles and write ups on keeping the teens safe and under "control" this summer that I thought I would share with this group.
While nothing is fool-proof there is a good chance that by following these basic ideas you can keep an eye on what's going on in your teens life during the summer hours.Â Here's what I've found:
Monitor your teenâ€™s time. This may be more of a challenge during the summer months than it is during the school year, but it is critical to keeping your child safe. Changes in families and neighborhoods have increased the amount of time that many young people spend unsupervised. Even when you canâ€™t be home to monitor your child, there are steps you can take to keep an eye on him. Itâ€™s time to get creative when it comes to keeping track of your kids.
- Team up. Is there a responsible adult in your neighborhood who is home during the day who can help monitor your child? Network with other adults in your community to help build a â€œsafety netâ€ for your child. Even offering your services to other parents in the same boat could prove to be a safety net for times when they want to go out in the evenings and you are at home and can monitor what's going on around the neighborhood.
- Technology is your friend. Many teens are plugged into the latest gizmos and gadgets, so use that technology to monitor your child:
- E-mail. If you have e-mail at work and at home, use it to swap notes with your child during the day.
- Instant messaging (IM). For many teens, IM is a primary form of communication. You can get IM on your cell phone or computer and use it to chat with your child throughout the day.
- Cell phones. A growing number of teens have cell phones, and if your teen is one of them, make sure she has it with her at all times.
- Get to know your teenâ€™s friends. They can be an important factor in your childâ€™s decisions about alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs. For more information, visit Summer Friendships and Increased Risk of Drug Use.
- Plan regular â€œcheck-inâ€ times, but donâ€™t rely solely on them. For example, you might tell your teenage son to call you when he wakes up and again right after lunch. But donâ€™t let these be the only calls you have all day! Call him at home and check in at different times so he gets the message that you want to know where he is at all times.
- Find supervised activities in your community that your teen enjoys. Youth who are involved in constructive, supervised activities during non-school hours are less likely to use drugs. Talk with your child about what she would like to do during the summer and see if you can find a summer program in your community.Â Â Here are a list of places to check out:
- Boys and Girls Club
- Local Church Groups
- Local City Parks and Recreations - often these places have summer classes and fun events that if your teen isn't interested in attending, may be interested in helping with the "little kids", keeping your "big kid" busy
- Local Sports Leagues - baseball, soccer, roller hockey, street hockey, etc.
- Local Hunting and Fishing leagues - often older men and women will mentor in these groups, taking your teens out fishing, boating, etc.
- Big Brothers and Sisters - an excellent mentoring organization, although I believe the cut-off age is 13
- Local Hospitals often accept volunteers to help during the summer months - formerly known to most of us as "Candy Stripers", these teens can do everything from pushing patients to and from one area to another in a hospital to reading to the kids in the childrens area
- Local Reading Club/Library - many volunteer organizations offer summer programs that enhance reading for the younger kids.Â They often need "readers" and the younger kids LOVE to have a teen reading to them.Â Your local library may even have some volunteer work at the childrens section that can keep your teen busy for at least a few hours each week.
â€œKids may equate summer with freedom, but for parents, itâ€™s when they need to be even more involved in their teensâ€™ lives. As soon as they pack up their locker for the year and step out of school, kids are much more likely to try marijuana,â€ said John P. Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. â€œBy keeping teens busy, knowing whom theyâ€™re with, and making sure theyâ€™re supervised, parents can help prevent their teenâ€™s summer from going to pot."
Below is a listing of various National Organizations to check out:
Children First Mentor Hotline
To find a mentor for your teen, or to volunteer to be a Mentor, call: 1-888-80-MENTOR or 1-800-914-2212 Children First
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America National Office
230 N. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
100 Years of Youth Mentoring
Founded in 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the United States. In 2002, the organization served more than 200,000 youth ages five through 18, in 5,000 communities across the country, through a network of 470 agencies. National research has shown that the positive relationships between Big Brothers and Big Sisters and their Littles have a direct, measurable, and lasting impact on childrenâ€™s lives.
Â Snag A Job
This is an easy to use search engine for part-time jobs in your area. Just search by zip code to find positions ranging from restaurant worker to â€œwalkaround characterâ€ Chuck E. Cheese! You can apply for jobs online also!Â Generally kids from 15 and up can find some work opportunities.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Tips for Teens: The Truth About Marijuana, last referenced 5/5/2005. (A print version of this publication was released in 2003.)
National Institute on Drug Abuse, September 2004 (revised). Marijuana: Facts for Teens, NIH Publication No. 03â€“4037, last referenced 5/5/2005.