Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keeping Teens out of Summer Trouble

Summer is a time when teenagers are especially a challenge to manage. School’s out; parents are at work, school-based clubs and organizations don’t meet, and there are fewer opportunities to find jobs due to age or transportation restrictions. For many teens, this adds up to a long, hot, Florida summer with nothing to do except spend time with their friends and possibly get into trouble.

A recent study conducted in Palm Beach County examined crimes committed by juveniles processed through youth court. By comparing arrests by month across a three-year span from 2000 to 2003, it was found that first arrest rates in June for the most recent year were about one and a half times what they were the year prior.

It’s important for parents and youth workers to think about what these arrest trends tell us and how to best deal with potential problems. During summer months, parents can help steer their teens in a positive direction -- encouraging involvement in hobbies, sports or volunteer activities that they may not have the time to explore during their school year.

It’s also a good idea to open a discussion with your teen so they know you understand that they may sometimes have difficulty making the right decision. It is important to make them aware, however, that a poor decision may have long-term serious effects. By heightening their awareness, when a decision arises about a potentially risky behavior, it may make them think twice before acting on it.

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