50 Ways Teens Get in Trouble How to Prevent Troubled Teens
Teen Drivers and Texting
In July of last year, the American Automobile Association released results of a national survey in which they found that 46 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds send text messages while they’re driving. While the number of teens who text may be alarming, the safety hazard is far more troubling to those at AAA who conducted the survey.
Automobile accidents are the top killer of teenagers in America, so the idea of one more distraction while they’re behind the wheel is disturbing. In addition, the Insurance Information Institute found that almost 30 percent of all crashes are caused by driver distraction.
Most teens think texting while driving is “no big deal.” They text so often that they can almost do it without looking. But the “almost” is the problem. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, a car accident can happen if a driver’s attention is diverted for just three seconds. So, while teens may think they’re perfectly safe because they only look down at their phones periodically while texting, “periodically” is all it takes.
For teenagers who are just learning how to drive, there are enough distractions already, without adding the challenges of talking on a phone or texting. Though texting while driving isn’t safe for anyone, it’s especially dangerous for teenagers who are still developing attention and coordination skills.
The University of Utah conducted a study in which it found that talking on the phone while driving impairs driving ability so much that a cell-phone-using driver is as impaired as someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08, which is borderline intoxicated.
Only two states have laws specific to text messaging – in Washington and New Jersey, it’s illegal to text and drive. But many states have cell phone laws which require the use of hands-free devices. While it’s important for teens to know and adhere to local driving laws, the law doesn’t have to be the final authority. Even in cities and states where no such laws exist, parents should restrict teens’ cell phone use while driving.
The organization Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) suggests the following list of safe driving guidelines for parents and teens:
- Know and enforce your state’s graduated driver’s license laws and restrictions, including those relating to unsupervised driving, time of day, and number of passengers in the car.
- Sign a teen driving contract (many are available online, including SADD’s Contract for Life).
- Set family driving rules with clear consequences for breaking the rules. SADD recommends rules such as:
• No alcohol or drug useNo cell phone use, including text messaging
• Limit distractions – eating, changing CDs, handling iPods, or other activities while driving
• Limit or restrict friends in the car without an adult present
SADD also recommends that parents set an example for their teenagers:
- Don’t use your cell phone when you’re driving, unless you use a hands-free device.
- If you receive an important call that could distract you while driving, pull over.
- For calls that you don’t need to answer right away, let your voicemail take the call.
Simple rules like this, when followed by both parents and teenagers, can keep everyone safe (and legal) while driving.
Playing ‘The Choking Game’
You might remember playing a childhood game where you held your breath until you felt as if you might pass out, or deliberately hyperventilated in order to feel dizzy. Games such as these were most often born out of curiosity or a desire to experiment with bodies and feelings. They were considered a cool thing to do away from parents’ prying eyes when with a group of peers at a sleepover party.
These games weren’t considered to be terribly risky then – even if you passed out, you would quickly resume breathing. But today’s children are playing a riskier version of this game – one that can lead to permanent damage, and even death.
Called the “choking game,” this activity involves the use of hands, arms, ropes, leashes, cords, scarves, chains, ties, or belts that are tightened around the neck (or sometimes the chest) to cut off the body’s oxygen supply. When the pressure is released, the return of blood to the brain gives a temporary “rush.” Children between the ages of 9 and 15 consider this an exciting or thrilling way to get high without the use of drugs or alcohol.
Teens and Raves
Your child wants to go to a rave. You’ve never heard of a rave party, so he tells you that it’s just a party where people dance for a long time – no alcohol, so don’t worry. It’s a place, he says, where young people respect music, art, and each other.
Sounds innocent, but don’t be fooled. Rave attendance, while generally not associated with alcohol, is closely linked with “club drugs” like ecstasy. Raves range in size from a few hundred attendees to several thousand, but the format is usually the same: Raves are dance parties that begin late at night and continue into the morning hours. They feature fast-paced, repetitive electronic music and light shows. Participants dance vigorously for hours. They may dress in costume, wear or carry glow sticks or bright accessories, eat lollipops and candy necklaces – and often take drugs either before or during the party in order to enhance the sensations and boost their energy.
While ecstasy is the drug most often associated with rave parties, other common club drugs are Ketamine, LSD, Rohypnol, and GHB. Recently, rave operators have begun searching ravers for drugs upon entry to the party and monitoring for drug use during the event. But this only encourages participants to use larger doses of drugs prior to the party so that the effects last throughout the event.
Programs for Troubled Teens
If you are struggling with your teen, you have probably tried a number of ways to get their behavior under control. If local resources have proven inadequate, there are many effective options for parents who are very worried about their teen’s future.
Wilderness Therapy, Therapeutic Boarding Schools, and Residential Treatment programs are