Alcohol and Other Drugs
What is Addiction?
Addiction Risk Factors:
Drug Paraphernalia Quiz:
Underage Drinking Parent Tool Kit:
Addiction Risk Factors:
How to Talk to Kids about Vaping:
Prescription Drug Misuse/Abuse:
Ten Tips for Parents
- Don’t Be Afraid To Be The “Mean” Parent: Sometimes, our fear of negative reaction from our kids keeps us from doing what is right. When it comes to alcohol and drugs, taking a tough stand can help our children to say no. Our decisions and rules can allow our children to use us as “the reason” for not using alcohol or drugs. (“My mom or my dad would kill me if I drank or used.”)
- Connect With Your Child’s Friends: Pay attention to who your child is hanging out with, who’s coming to the house and get to know them. Encourage your child to invite friends over to the house and make them feel welcomed.
- Make Connections With Other Parents Too: As you get to know your kid’s friends, take the opportunity to introduce yourself to his/her parents. It’s a great way to build mutual support and share your rules about alcohol and drugs. And, it will make it easier for you to call if your son/daughter is going to a party at their house to make sure that there will be responsible parental supervision.
- Promote Healthy Activities”: Help your kids, and their friends, learn how to have fun, and fight off the dreaded “I’m bored.” Physical games, activities and exercise are extremely important because of the positive physical and mental benefits. Encourage kids to become engaged in other school and community activities such as music, sports, arts or a part-time job. The more your children are active, the less time they have to get caught up in the pressure from peers to drink alcohol and use drugs.
- Establish Clear Family Rules About Alcohol and Drugs: Setting specific, clear rules is the foundation for parental efforts in prevention, some ideas:
- Kids under 21 will not drink alcohol
- Kids will not ride in a car with someone who has been drinking or using drugs
- Older brothers and sisters will not encourage younger kids to drink or use drugs
- Kids under 21 will not host parties at our home without parental supervision
- Kids will not stay at a kid’s party where alcohol or drugs are present
Consistent enforcement of the rules, with consequences, if needed is essential. Without consequences the rules have no value and will not work.
- Get Educated About Alcohol and Drugs: You cannot rely on your own personal experiences or common sense to carry you through. Your ability to provide family leadership in prevention requires you to be better educated. And, as you learn, share what you are learning with your spouse and your kids.
- Be a Role Model and Set a Positive Example: Bottom line, from a kid’s perspective, what you do is more important than what you say! Research studies show that parents who drink alcohol or use drugs are more likely to have kids who drink or use. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation: if you use medication, use only as directed, and do not use illegal drugs. If you host a party, always serve alternative non-alcoholic beverages and do not let anyone drink and drive.
- Keep Track of Your Child’s Activities: Asking questions, keeping track, checking in are all important. Research has found that young people who are not regularly monitored by their parents are four times more likely to use alcohol or drugs. Make the time to know what is happening in your child’s life—especially in families where both parents work outside of the home, life is busy but you must find time for your children-know what they are up to!
- Keep Track of Alcohol and Prescription Drugs: For kids, the most common source of alcohol and prescription drugs is parents. Make sure that your home is not a source of alcohol and prescription drugs for your kids or their friends.
- Get Help: If at any point you suspect your child is having a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, get help. Don’t wait.
AS A PARENT, YOU CAN HELP PREVENT YOUR CHILD FROM BECOMING ADDICTED TO ALCOHOL OR DRUGS.
TAKING ACTION IS PREVENTION.
Internet safety or "e safety" has become a fundamental topic in our digital world and includes knowing about one’s Internet privacy and how one’s behaviors can support a healthy interaction with the use of the Internet. Students explore how the Internet offers an amazing way to collaborate with others worldwide, while staying safe through employing strategies such as distinguishing between inappropriate contact and positive connections. These foundational skills and learning more about the Internet safety definition helps students learn how to be safe on the Internet.
The term “online predator” often conjures up the image of a creepy older man at a computer screen waiting to lure an unsuspecting child. The media reinforces this depiction, which is problematic because it does not fit with the kinds of risky relationships that are more common for kids and teens or necessarily follow Internet safety statistics. In reality, when online sexual solicitation does occur, it’s more likely to be between two teens, or between a teen and a young adult. The following information serves to clear up these misconceptions and helps to showcase some of the Internet safety facts by providing information for teachers about the myths and realities of online sexual solicitation, as well as guidance on how to approach this sensitive topic.
Thinking Beyond “Online Predators” & How to be Safe on the Internet
- Teens, not children, are most likely to receive online sexual solicitations. Online solicitors rarely target younger kids. This happens more frequently to younger teens (ages 14 to 17). People who solicit online are often upfront about their intentions. They may ask teens to talk about sex, to give out personal sexual information, to send sexy photos online, or to meet offline for a possible sexual encounter.
- A teen is more likely to be solicited online by another teen or a young adult. Contrary to popular belief, teens are more likely to be solicited online by similarly aged peers. It is true, however, that a very high majority of sexual solicitations online come from boys or men. Guiding teens to think more generally about avoiding risky online relationships, rather than telling them to fear predators, prepares them for the wider breadth of situations they may have to deal with online—not only the extreme cases.
- The “predator-prey” label gives the wrong impression. There is a range of behaviors that are not made clear by the predator-prey label. The behaviors can range from “not as risky” (i.e. receive inappropriate spam through email and immediately send to their junk mail) to “very risky,” (i.e. seek companionship or friendship on an online chat room, and develop an ongoing, risky relationship with a stranger).
In the most extreme cases of online solicitation – those involving older adults and teens – targets are usually aware of their solicitor’s true age and intentions. For the small percentage of teens who find themselves in this kind of situation, simply warning them against “unwanted contact” is not an effective strategy because they have likely grown to be comfortable with, and perhaps even dependent upon, their solicitor. Instead, we need to help teens understand why it is risky to flirt with people they meet online, how to recognize warning signs, and more broadly, why romantic relationships between teens and adults are unhealthy.
The Truth About Risky Online Relationships
Many adults fear that kids use the Internet to connect with strangers. In reality, most kids and teens use the Internet to keep in touch with people they already know offline, or to explore topics that interest them. Studies show that it is most often teens who are psychologically or socially vulnerable that tend to take more risks online (Subrahmanyam and Šmahel, 2011; Ybarra et al., 2007). These at-risk teens might seek reassurance, friendship, or acceptance through relationships that they develop online — in chat rooms, online forums, etc. The term “grooming” is sometimes used to describe the process of an older adult coaxing a young person into sexual situations. For cases involving children, grooming may involve befriending the child, showing interest in his or her hobbies, exposing the child to sexually explicit material, and manipulating a child into a sexual encounter (Lanning, 2010). The term is less commonly used for cases between teens, or between a teen and a young adult. Research also shows that teens who flirt and engage in online sexual talk with strangers– especially in chat rooms – are more likely to be solicited for sex (Ybarra et al., 2007).
What Should Kids and Teens Know if Online Strangers Contact Them?
Discuss with kids what it’s like to have a “gut feeling” about an uncomfortable situation. You can use a traffic light analogy (green = okay, yellow = iffy, red = risky) to help kids assess different online scenarios (e.g., if someone asks for a photo, talks about inappropriate things, asks them to keep anything a secret, bothers them, says something that makes them feel sad or upset). You might be tempted to lean on typical “stranger danger” messaging here, but do consider that these situations may also happen with people kids know or sort of know. Emphasize to students that they have the power to end conversations and log off the Internet at any time, and to not let shyness or embarrassment prevent them from talking to a parent or family member if they get into an iffy or risky situation. This approach can apply beyond grooming to issues like cyberbullying and online scams, too.
Middle School and High School:
We recommend avoiding fear-based messages with teens, as research indicates that teens are less responsive to this approach (Lanning, 2010). Teens are not likely to buy into the idea that they should avoid all contact with anyone they do not know online. After all, it is nearly impossible to connect with others online without talking to some people who are strangers. Rather than telling teens to never talk with strangers, it is more effective to have conversations about why certain online relationships are risky, and about how to avoid them. The number one thing for teens to remember is that they should avoid flirting with or regularly talking to online strangers or online acquaintances, especially – but not only – if the person they are chatting with is older than they are. Teens should also reflect on these questions if they communicate with someone they meet online:
- Has this person asked to keep anything about our relationship a secret?
- Has this person hinted at or asked about anything sexual?
- Have I felt pressured or manipulated by this person?
- Do I feel true to myself – sticking to my values – when I communicate with this person?