Keeping Your Teen Safe

June 11, 2011 by Dennis Berry  
Published in Motherhood

Parents of teenagers often find themselves worrying constantly about where their child is and whether or not she is safe. Following a few simple guidelines will help ensure your child knows how to be safe in difficult situations.

There are a large number of dangers out there in the world waiting for your teen. She may understand the dangers on a basic level, but do you and your teen know how to be prepared and safe?

1. Friends

Let’s face it. Your teen probably has friends that you don’t approve of. Perhaps the friend has a bad attitude or dresses poorly. Perhaps they have a bad reputation around town. Perhaps you simply have a bad feeling about them and don’t exactly know why. Whatever the case, your teen needs to understand the importance of having the proper friends.

As a parent of a teen myself, I know how hard it can be sometimes to let her go with friends that you don’t like. At some point, though, you have to let go and trust that your teen will use good judgment and do the right things. You can help her by making sure she understands the difference between good and bad friends.

What do I mean by bad friends? I don’t mean to say that a bad friend is one who dresses poorly or doesn’t have a good solid family background. Those things are usually irrelevant when it comes to friendships. A bad friend, rather, is one who will push the boundaries and allow your teen to get into trouble. These types of friends will not care whether your teen gets into trouble because in the end it doesn’t affect them. These types of friends will coerce and try to talk your teen into doing things she knows she shouldn’t. These types of friends are no friends at all.

On the other hand, a good friend will be there for your teen. When she needs a shoulder to cry on, these friends will be there. When your teen is about to make a mistake, these friends will warn them. Let your teen know that these are the types of friends they should have.

2. The Internet

There are so many dangerous on the internet that it’s almost impossible to count them all. Sure there are the normal everyday dangers like improper websites. But the most dangerous of them all is the predator.

The predator is the person sitting in his darkened bedroom late at night, pretending he’s actually a 16-year-old girl from Indiana when in reality he is a 30-year old man looking for a victim. The predator is most dangerous because teenagers want and need to be loved and feel special, and he knows just how to make them feel that way. He will lie and gain their trust. He will get them to confide in him. And he will try to talk them into meeting with him.

Your teen needs to understand what information is safe to give out over the internet. She should never give out any information at all to anyone she doesn’t know. No names, no phone numbers, and especially no address. And make sure your teen know that it is never safe to meet anyone from the internet.

3. Drugs, tobacco and alcohol

As a parent of a teenager this one scares me the most. I was once a teenager, and I know the thrills of experimenting with substances. It is almost inevitable that your teen will be faced with the choice at least once. Making sure your teen knows how to react will be the difference between a healthy teenager and one who gets addicted.

One of the most important things your teen can do is learn how to react when confronted with this choice. Nancy Reagan said it best. Just say no.

One of the best things my parents ever said to me was that smoking, taking drugs and drinking were very dangerous and they didn’t want me to do it. However they also made a point of ensuring that I would be safe if I did ever choose to disregard their warnings.

Explain to your teen that drinking and driving is a deadly combination. Tell them that smoking can quickly become a habit that they may never be able to get rid of. Make sure they understand that drugs can destroy a person’s life. Then let them know that if they ever find themselves in a situation where peer pressure has gotten the better of them, they can call you and you will pick them up.

4. Driving

A teenager behind the wheel of an automobile is possibly one of the scariest things for a parent. It’s not necessarily that we don’t trust them, but rather it’s all the other crazy drivers on the road that present a problem.

In most states a teen must take Drivers Ed before being allowed to get a permit or license. While this class teaches them how to drive safely, it doesn’t necessarily teach them everything they need to know. Enrolling your teen in a defensive driving course will give her the skills she needs when facing those crazy drivers.

Above all, make sure your teen knows who they can trust and who they can’t. They should never go with strangers. They should never find themselves walking in a strange neighborhood after dark. They should be able to call on you, other family or friends in an emergency and know that help will be there for them.

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