The island is ours. Here, in some way, we are young forever.E. Lockhart
Summer is a time to let go of the stresses and structure of school, and celebrate the completion of another academic year. Some students are preparing for big changes; looking for a job, going to college, moving into high school or middle school. Others are simply glad school’s out and they can cut loose and have fun.
According to US Health Officials, first-time smoking of cigarettes and marijuana and drinking of alcohol among youth are highest during the summer. It’s a tough reality that once a teenager has tried smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and trying other forms of drugs, their chances of repeated use increase. Summer is also time for informal parties and other gatherings, and as adults it becomes harder to keep track of what is going on in the lives of our teens.
To help families, the VARSA website provides support to help start those tricky conversations with our children - and the parents of their friends - about underage drug and alcohol use, driving under the influence, and making sure that there is always a responsible adult in charge.
There are printable PDFs and links to other resources with wide-ranging information, from setting family expectations, behavioral health, and safe dating, to online safety and recognizng warning signs that your teen (or their friends) may have a substance use issue.
Keep an eye out in the community for posters, ads, and yard signs reminding us to Just Say Know. And remember VARSA’s “Who, What, Where, When, How” checklist:
- Who is the adult in charge, what is their phone number?
- What is the plan, who’ll be there?
- Where are you going?
- When does it end, how are you getting home?
- How will you leave if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable?
Parents can trust their teens and still expect to know where they are, who they are with, and what their plans are. Most of us want to know, and are grateful when other parents check in*.
After all, we want everyone to have the Best Summer Ever!
*Data from 2014 Community Attitudes Survey indicates 70% of parents want to talk to other parents, and set clear boundaries with their teens.