Nothing is as magical as summertime when you are a teenager. The freedom of having no school and little parental involvement and quite possibly even a driver’s license can be the best feeling in the world. But with the magic and freedom of summertime, come risks for teenagers. Parents need to be aware of the serious risks that abound for teenagers during the summer and be involved and actively communicate with their teens to ensure their safety.
Dehydration can be a serious medical condition if left untreated. As defined by WebMD.com, dehydration occurs when more water is exiting cells than entering cells. Dehydration can be caused by excessive exercising, exposure to heat, or sunburn all common occurrences during the summer. Symptoms include dizziness, increased thirst, weakness and decreased urination. Teens need to be diligent in limiting soft drinks and making sure they drink enough plain water.
Sunburn is a very serious summer risk for teens. Despite all the research indicating that tanning is dangerous, teens are very concerned with their appearance and still sunbathe without adequate sun protection. Aside from the lifelong risk of skin cancer, sunburns can also lead to sun poisoning and dehydration, both of which can be life-threatening. Teach teens to apply sunscreen correctly and frequently to avoid sun related incidents.
Raging hormones and unsupervised teenagers can lead to unprepared teens having sex. Teens need to be reminded about safe sex so that their moonlit summer tryst does not lead to sexually transmitted diseases or an unwanted pregnancy. As a responsible parent, take the time to have numerous dialogues with your children about sex and the possible repercussions of their actions.
According to Kaitlin Todd’s Associated Content article, crime increases during the summer months. Although definitive reasons why have not been identified, many theorize the hot weather and the increased outdoor activity create situations that lead to crime. When teens are just getting a handle on romantic relationships, they may find themselves in dangerous situations where they may be taken advantage of. Who hasn’t taken a long drive to be alone with a date? Whether your child is sexually active or not, teach your children how to be aware of their surroundings and how to avoid putting themselves in dangerous situations.
Teens are prone to experimentation. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that the average age of first marijuana usage is 14 years old. With more free time during the summer, teens may find opportunities to try drugs. Education and open communication on a regular basis is the key to preventing kids from trying drugs.
Teenage experimentation extends to alcohol as well as sex and drugs. The difference is that in most households, alcohol is readily available. Working parents, bored teenagers and available alcohol is a recipe to summertime trouble. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that the alcohol experimentation now routinely starts before age 12. Honest communication and setting a good example with regards to alcohol consumption will go a long way toward keeping your teen sober. Homes with alcohol should make an effort to lock or hide alcohol, and take a weekly inventory of the products to identify is any have been consumed, taken or switched.
7. Car accidents
For teens with freshly minted drivers licenses, driving is dangerous in any season Yet the summer season is a time that teens typically have more free time to hang out with friends, and have a tendency to be reckless in an effort to have a good time. Anecdotally most people have heard stories about teens driving through fields, practicing Chinese fire drills or drag racing on a hot summer evening. Set strong guidelines for your teens that drive, and be sure to discuss the consequences, both legally in within the family, for reckless driving.
Hanging out the local swimming hole is an age old summertime activity. A bunch of friends swimming can be a good time, or a tragedy waiting to happen. When teens act recklessly or bring alcohol into the situation, drowning can occur. Education is the key to preventing senseless tragedies like drowning. Talk to your teen about proper behavior. Visit http://www.drowning-prevention.org/teen_campaign.htm for more information on preventing drowning. Go the extra mile and have your teen CPR certified so if your teen finds himself in an emergency situation, he can offer some assistance.
Being disconnected from school friends, and being alone all day may lead your teen to experience depression. Sit down with your teen to plan out activities to keep him or her busy and connected with family and friends so that plain boredom doesn’t turn into depression and lead to other high risk activities like drug or alcohol use.
The combination of any of the aforementioned risks such as rape, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or depression can lead to a tragic suicide for a misdirected teen. In fact a recent study on www.upi.com, reported that suicide peaks in Greenland during the summer months. Many believe that the increase sunlight can affect neurotransmitter and cause depression and suicidal thoughts. Help your children by teaching them how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including getting enough sleep and talking to trusted family and friends when they have problems.
It is often said that an idle mind is the devil’s playground. This saying is particularly true when discussing teens and summer vacation. Many summer risks can be avoided by simply have open and honest communication with your children, and by making sure they have ample activities to occupy their time. If teens are old enough a summer job is often a great way to keep teens occupied all while teaching them responsibility and allowing them to make new friends in a safe environment. By being concerned and involved parents, you can ensure that your teens have enjoyable, memorable and safe summers.
Kaitlin Todd” Summer Crime Rates: Does Crime Take a Summer Vacation, Too?” http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/278337/summer_crime_rates_does_crime_take.html?cat=17
Sunlight Linked to Summer Suicide Spike. http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2009/05/08/Sunlight-linked-to-summer-suicide-spike/UPI-23461241818519/