“Imagination is something that sits up with Dad and Mom the first time their teenager stays out late.”—Lane Olinghouse
Adolescent Risk Behaviors: Why Teens Experiment and Strategies to Keep Them Safe (Yale University Press, 2006) by David A. Wolfe, Peter G. Jaffe, and Claire V. Crooks is highlighted in an article in yesterday’s London Free Press (Canada). The book is the product of years of research and aims to help teachers and parents keep teenagers safe. It focuses on the crucial role that relationships play in the lives of teenagers.
The book notes that eighty percent of high school students have tried alcohol, sixty percent have tried cigarettes, and fifty percent have experimented with marijuana. Combine these factors with the temptation of pre-marital sex, and parents have plenty to keep their imaginations active. The book also examines the ways that healthy relationships can help teenagers avoid these common mistakes and addresses the current lack of effective prevention programs.
According to the article, the Thames Valley District (where Jaffe is a trustee) in Ontario has started The Fourth R program. The Fourth R stands for relationships and teaches Grade 9 students about drugs and alcohol, positive relationships, and violence prevention. It also includes gender-strategic lessons.
The article also offers a list of tips from Wolfe to help parents build a healthy relationship with their kids:
– Listen attentively.
– Be honest and open. A good predictor of less adolescent sex is directly related to how much dialogue there is on the subject.
– Be aware of the influence of pop culture and the development of the adolescent.
– Don’t believe everything you hear. The message is that risky behaviour is occurring at a greater rate than it actually is. That can lead to a sense of dread as your child approaches the teen years and may influence how you react.
– Have positive communication with your teen whenever an opportunity arises.
– Encourage extracurricular activities.
– Know your teen’s interests and participate in a non- critical way.
– See adolescents as a valuable resource, rather than a public health problem.