In all your giving, don't forget to give the Gift of Safety. Stock your teens holiday stockings with these, "don't leave home without" safety tools:
- Be sure your teen understands that drinking under the age of 21 is illegal and unacceptable. The old adage, "information is the first line of defense", really holds true here.
- Be a responsible role model. No longer are we living in the age of "do as I say, not as I do". That worked a lot better when I was a teen, but not with today's teens. Know that your behavior is a major influence on your teen's behavior. Never drink and drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substances. While you are at it, do remember that prescription drug abuse is a major problem with teens today. Research has shown that prescription drug abuse among teens is rapidly on the rise. Safeguard your prescription medications by securing them, locking them away and monitoring the count.
- Secure your alcohol including beer. Many teens begin to drink from the comforts of their own home.
- Know where your teen is going and ask questions. Who will be there? Will alcohol or other drugs be present? Will adults be home? Do those adults tolerate drinking in their home?
- Encourage your teen to have an accountability partner. This person is not responsible for your teen's behavior, but will encourage your teen toward positive behavior if he or she encounter a situation in which they are tempted to use.
- Discuss with your teen situations in which he or she might be offered drugs or alcohol, and plan ways for how they can respond.
- Make a safety plan with your teen for how he or she will get home. Remind him or her never to get in a car with a driver who has been using drugs or drinking. Provide money for a taxi or public transportation, if it is available in your area. Make an agreement with your teen that if he or she calls to ask for a ride, you will come immediately with no questions asked until later.
- Don't be in denial. If your teen has a problem with drugs or alcohol get help. A first place to start is to contact your local Alcohol and Drug Services agency.