July 10, 2007 —
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has several great ideas for keeping your kids safe during the summer. Here are a few of its suggestions:
- 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 "safety net." for your child.
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 teen's friends. They can be an important factor in your child's decisions about alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. For more information, visit Summer Friendships and Increased Risk of Drug Use.
- Plan regular "check-in" times, but don'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 don'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.
Most importantly, always remember to really listen to what your child is saying. Hearing them speak is not the same as listening to their words.