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Monthly Archives January 2017

A Parent’s Guide to Protecting Teen Drivers in 2017

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 20, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

It’s 2017, and iPhones are everywhere. As a result, distracted driving is the talk of the town. According to some sources, it’s even more dangerous than drinking and driving, which is on the decline. However, it’s also important to remember the dangers that drinking and driving pose to our teenagers.

Distracted driving kills 8 people per day, while drinking and driving kills an average of 24 people per day. It gets worse. According to the Center for Disease Control, teenagers are 17 times more likely to die from an accident when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% (the legal limit for adults). Now for the good news. Since 1991, the number of teens who admit to drinking and driving has decreased by 51%. The Center for Disease Control attributes this decline to four factors:

  1. Minimal Legal Drinking Age:
  2. Zero Tolerance
  3. Graduated Driver Licensing:
  4. Parental Involvement

Minimal Legal Drinking Age laws restrict alcohol consumption for all individuals under 21, while Zero Tolerance laws make it illegal for minors to drive with any blood alcohol content. These laws are present in all 50 states. Graduated Driver’s Licensing laws grant additional driving privileges as drivers gain experience. These programs include provisional licenses and learner’s permits. They are also present in all fifty states, but they differ widely. Click here for a guide to GDL programs in every state.

Parental Involvement is the biggest the biggest variable by far. So, how can you keep your teenager safe on the road? First, you need to accept that your child may drink. You also need to assure them that you will be there for them if and when they run into trouble. This could mean paying for an Uber, ordering a cab, or picking them up. The goal is to dissuade your teenager from drinking and driving by offering a better alternative: judgement-free help.

You can also help them build good habits while they earn their learner’s permit. A driving contract is a perfect way to establish guidelines and encourage good driving habits. An effective driving contract should include guidelines for your child, but it should also describe the consequences for breaking those guidelines. Your contract could include some of the following guidelines:

  • Never drink and drive
  • Never text and drive
  • Always wear a seat belt
  • Always obey speed limits
  • Only drive between the hours of 6:00 AM and 12:00 PM
  • Only drive with a maximum of one (1) other teenager

Possible consequences might include grounding, additional chores, or the inability to drive for a set time. Guidelines and consequences will differ for every family. Just make sure to communicate openly with your spouse and your child as you draft a contract that you can all agree on.

If your budget has room for a car, you can also purchase a teen-friendly vehicle. Used cars will give you the most bang for your buck, especially because many teenagers will crash within their first month on the road. If you’re going shopping, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a comprehensive guide to purchasing a vehicle for your teenager. Here are a few of the takeaways:

Above all, the most important thing you can do is to model safe behavior. If your child sees you talking on the phone, driving under the influence, or driving recklessly, they’ll learn from you. As you continue into 2017, remember that you are the biggest influence on your teen’s safety. Drinking and driving is already on the decline. Keep it up, and we will eventually eliminate DUI. Distracted driving, you’re next.

Contributor: Jayson Goetz is a young writer whose work primarily focuses on educating readers about the effects of science and technology on today’s society.

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The Connection Between Online Safety and Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 19, 2017  /   Posted in Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Anita Brikman

As parents of teenagers, we know that it’s not unusual for teens to spend time online chatting with friends, visiting social networking sites, following sports or celebrities and – hopefully – doing their homework. While this might not seem worrisome, the digital world is a space where anyone can say anything, and teenagers don’t always evaluate whether the information they are exposed to is true or false. There are many dangers lurking online, including websites that promote how to abuse over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to achieve a “high.” In fact, there are online communities in which users share and glorify their medicine abuse experiences, which may influence teens to engage in this dangerous activity.

It’s impossible to be aware of all your teen’s online activities, but you can help reduce the risk of your teen being exposed to the promotion of OTC cough medicine abuse by taking the following actions:

Educate yourself on the issue:

It is important to first understand the dangers and warning signs of OTC cough medicine abuse. Look out for pro-drug sites that promote and provide instructions for the abuse of dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in many OTC cough medicines. These sites spread false information about DXM, leading teens to believe it is safer to abuse than illicit drugs. Stay alert for internet orders, the arrival of unexpected packages and unexplained payments.

Educate yourself on the space:

Teens are quick adopters of new platforms and technology, which can make it difficult to keep up with their online lives. You can better recognize dangerous online communities by knowing what platforms your teen is using as well as how these platforms are used. You can learn more about the number of websites and online communities that promote OTC medicine abuse here.

Talk to your teen about internet safety:

Once you have a firm grasp on the issue of medicine abuse, visit and discuss websites like WhatIsDXM.com, drugfree.org and StopMedicineAbuse.org with your teen. This way, your teen has the facts about substance abuse and knows where to access credible information. Teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs. Having regular conversations with your teen can make a big difference.

Connect with your teen online:

Follow and connect with your teen on social media. They may not be open to this initially, but they might be more accepting to the idea if you assure them that you’ll respect their space. This will also open up an opportunity for you to model good online behavior to you teen.

Spread the word:

Share what you learned about OTC medicine abuse with other parents and members of your community. This will enable others to have these important conversations with their teens and, in turn, ensure that more teens are practicing safe behavior online.

Even though it might not seem like it, teenagers look to their parents for support and guidance. Setting up guidelines around what behavior is and is not acceptable online will help ensure your teen is being smart and safe no matter what new media comes along.

Contributor: Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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How to Prepare Your Teen for Bad Weather Driving Conditions

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 18, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Winter weather can make driving dangerous for even the most experienced drivers, so it’s no wonder, as a parent, you’re concerned about putting your teenager behind the wheel in less than ideal conditions. And there’s good reason for concern: Bad weather plays a role in 22 percent of total car crashes and at least 15 percent of crash fatalities. Safe winter driving is possible with preparation and practice.

If your teen has no experience navigating wintery roads, keep them off the road until you can give them some practice in a controlled environment, like an empty parking. Practice will help them get a feel for the car’s steering, gripping and braking on slick pavement so they will better understand how to adjust when they’re on the open road. In addition to hands-on driving experience, here are five ways to prepare your teen for winter driving.

1. Keep a Cold Weather Emergency Kit in the Car

Help your teen create an emergency kit that they can keep in the car. Items might include blankets, flashlight, flare, jumper cables, snacks and water, a small shovel, portable phone charger and hand warmers. Additionally, make sure they have the number to a roadside assistance service programmed into their phone.

2. Remove All Snow from the Car Before Driving

Teens in a hurry might be inclined to just scrape snow off the windows and get on the road. But that’s not guaranteed to safeguard them from visibility. Instead, encourage your teen to remove all snow on their vehicle’s exterior before driving. Headlights and taillights also need to be visible to other drivers and can play a crucial role when conditions take a turn for the worse. Furthermore, left behind snow on the hood and roof can fly off and hinder visibility for your teen and other drivers. Finally, have them check that the exhaust pipe is clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Perform a Thorough Maintenance Check

Routine maintenance becomes more important in poor weather. Have your teen check their fluids before driving, ensuring, in particular, that their windshield wiper fluid is topped off. Likewise, make sure the vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and in good condition. If the tread looks worn, consider replacing the tires altogether. Low tread or bald tires are especially dangerous on slick roads.

4. Ensure the Gas Tank is at least Half Full

Most teens will let their gas tanks run until they are completely empty, but stress the importance of a full tank when winter weather conditions are bad. That’s because there’s always the possibility of being caught in stopped traffic, or worse, getting stranded during bad weather. With that in mind, instruct your teen to always keep their gas tank above half in the winter.

5. Review Other Important Winter Driving Tips

  • Increase your following distance: When on the road, especially in icy conditions and during inclement weather, remind your teen to give cars in front of them more than enough space to allow for extra braking distance and skidding.
  • Decrease speed: Driving at slower-than-normal speeds may be necessary, because stopping, accelerating and turning all take longer in the snow. Also, keep in mind that other traffic will be moving slower than usual.
  • Watch for stopped vehicles: Be on the lookout for stranded cars, slow-moving snow plows and emergency vehicles.
  • Watch for ice on bridges: Bridges, shaded areas and overpasses will freeze before other parts of the road. Thus, these areas are more prone for accidents, so make sure to travel slowly through these areas.
  • Avoid using cruise control: It should be commonsense, but steer clear of using cruise control when the roads are wet to prevent sliding.
  • Keep your headlights on: Always keep your headlights on, even during the daytime, so other drivers can see you.

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3 Tips to Prevent Your Teenager from Commiting Theft

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 17, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

This is probably hard to admit, but yesterday you caught your teenager red-handed taking money out of your purse. To add insult to injury, you are pretty sure this was not the first time they helped themselves to some of your hard-earned cash.

While it’s hard to believe your own flesh and blood is stealing from you, it’s not something that should be taken lightly. To nip this problem in the bud, and prevent it from blossoming into a full-blown issue that involves late-night calls from the police, check out these surefire tips:

Different Ages, Different Tactics

Young children can sometimes have difficulty understanding what does and what does not constitute stealing. Teenagers should know from right or wrong, but maybe you have younger children and have noticed them taking things that do not belong to them.

As Parents.com notes, young children can be taught to never take something from another person without asking first, and that it’s not OK to help themselves to money from a purse or wallet — even if they are used to being handed money now and then.

Teaching them not to steal must be done with a combination of patience and age-appropriate punishments. A 4-year-old who takes a dollar out of your wallet, for example, shouldn’t be able to watch their favorite show on TV that night. On the other hand, tweens and teens usually have the ability to understand that stealing is wrong, so they should face greater consequences.

Determine Why They’re Stealing

Kids and teens steal from family members for a wide variety of reasons. As Kids Health notes, school-age kids who take their siblings’ iPod or gift cards might not have the self-control needed to stop themselves. Tweens and teens may steal because it gives them a rush, or because they have seen their friends do it and they want to try it, too.

Meanwhile, some teens steal because they are rebelling against you and other adults, or because they are angry about something and want attention. In other cases, older kids steal because they cannot afford what they either need or want; sadly, in some cases, this may be alcohol or drugs. Stealing has also been linked to stress, and it can also be a cry for help.

What to Do Next

First, try to determine how often your kid has stolen something. A one-time money grab from your purse is definitely not OK, but it’s not the same as on-going and frequent stealing that has added up to hundreds of dollars, if not more. But no matter how often your tween or teen has taken something that’s not theirs, remind them that stealing is still a crime and that they must be held accountable.

As Empowering Parents notes, while you might be tempted to try to excuse your teenager’s actions based on their rebellious nature or sullen attitude, stealing is much more about breaking the law than someone’s personal feelings or problems. If you catch your child taking money from your wallet, they must pay it back, either by doing extra chores or missing out on allowance.

Teens who steal more than once may need professional help. This can come either from a family counselor or therapist, a religious leader like a minister or rabbi, or a school counselor. To set your mind at ease and help you rebuild trust with your teenager, consider installing a security camera inside your home.

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