Have you had the talk with your daughter? Just 4 Questions can save her life.

by D. Bryant Simmons

datingDating abuse is a reality not often discussed when the topic turns to domestic violence. Adults tend to dismiss the social interactions of pre-teens and teens as puppy love—immature and unequal to the romantic relationships between adults. Well, did you know that one out of three adolescent girls has been a victim of verbal, physical, or emotional abuse from someone they dated?i And nearly half of teenage girls know someone that is dealing with dating abuse.ii What you don’t know about your kid’s relationship with their boyfriend or girlfriend could be the makings of a life or death situation.

Before dating becomes a possibility, before the “first kiss, there are four questions every mother and father should ask their daughter.

1. Do you know what makes you special?
Ignore her awkwardness and wait patiently for a real answer. The goal is not for her to state the obvious, that she’s tall or athletic or has a decent head of hair. The answer has to be more than skin-deep. Affirm the qualities that she’s recognized and add a few of your own. Give her examples. Remember the time that you….I was so proud because….

2. When you start dating what rights do you have?
She has the right to end the relationship at any time. She has the right to withhold consent for anything at anytime. If she doesn’t think of these rights describe situations where she would want to enact these rights to help her understand each one. Then restate the rights in a concise manner like above.

3. When dating what responsibilities do you have? To yourself, to the other person, and to your family?
This is your opportunity to lay out any rules you may have and dispel any dating myths. For instance, if a date spends a lot of money on you, then you owe him….

4. How do you set boundaries and how do you respond when someone disrespects those boundaries?
State clearly and explicitly what you expect and why at the beginning of a relationship. Have a no-tolerance policy regarding your physical and mental safety. No-tolerance means no second chances. If someone crosses the line tell your best friend, your parents, someone who cares about you. Ask for their support. Then report the person to the authorities. Do not let them get away without legal consequences and a permanent record. End all contact with the person.

You may have doubts about bringing law enforcement into this. We are talking about adolescents and teenagers here, right? They’re young. They can still change. Well, people do not change their behavior when the behavior doesn’t result in significant consequences. Here’s some more food for thought. If it happens again, this time to a different girl, and this time he goes even further the police will have to take it seriously. His parents will have to take it seriously because now we’ve established a pattern.

Encouraging a no-tolerance policy is the only way to say unequivocally to our girls, “That is unacceptable. You deserve better.” And have them believe it.

Christy’s Four Steps to Help Stop Medicine Abuse

By Christy Crandell


medicineTen years ago, one of Christy Crandell’s sons was arrested for armed robbery while high on over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine. Now Christy is an author and one of the Five Moms working to educate other parents about dangerous teen behaviors such as medicine abuse to keep families safe and healthy.


One in 20 teens have admitted to using dextromethorphan (DMX), an ingredient found in more than 100 OTC cough medicines, to get high. Yet many parents still believe that it will not happen to their teen. I encourage you to take these four steps to prevent this abuse.


Educate yourself on medicine abuse

The first step in helping to stop OTC cough medicine abuse is to educate yourself on the issue and learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms. Start by learning teen’s slang terms for DXM like robo-tripping, skittles, and dex. Additionally, learn about the different side effects and warning signs such as nausea, confusion, and slurred speech. By knowing what to look for, you can help prevent your teens, their friends, and other teens in the community from abusing OTC cough medicine.


Talk to your teen

Many parents often find it hard to start conversations about drugs, alcohol, and online behavior with their children. However, as parents, we know that these conversations need to happen. It is a matter of finding the right time, the right place, and the right words. If you are having trouble finding the right words, try using one of these conversation starters to help ease into the conversation.


During these types of conversations, I encourage you to talk about how to say no to peer pressure. Explain to your teen that you understand it can be difficult to say no, then practice running through different scenarios with them and provide an exit plan. Agree on a code word that can be used when your teen needs help getting out of a situation with their peers when drugs or alcohol are present. Even if your teen does not seem like they are listening or engaging in the conversation – keep talking. Remember 50 percent of teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are less likely to use them.


Monitor your medicine cabinet

Protect your teen from the temptation of medicine abuse by safeguarding the medicines in your home. Monitor and track all the medicines in your cabinet and know how much is left so you’ll notice if anything goes missing.


Educate other parents in your community

I believe that the harder the conversation is to start, the more important it is. Many parents do not know where to begin when talking to other parents and community members about medicine abuse. I have found that one of the best ways to start the conversation with other parents is to naturally weave over-the-counter medicine abuse into a conversation about other drugs and alcohol. If you do not usually talk about the topic of drugs or alcohol with parents in your community, another way to start the conversation is to share a personal connection to the issue. Please, do not be embarrassed to share your story, because by sharing your story and starting the conversation about medicine abuse, you could ultimately save the lives of others. If you do not have a personal story to share, I welcome you to use mine or one of the other Five Moms’ stories to help you start the conversation.


Encourage parents you know to check out stopmedicineabuse.org to learn about the problem.

Warning Signs a Teen is Abusing Alcohol

According to Dr. Rick Meeves, Director of Adolescent Clinical Services at CRC Health Group, a teen may 1) not be interested in alcohol at all, 2) be curious about it, 3) try it, or 4) start drinking. Most teenagers experiment with alcohol but the relationship isn’t predictable and may go in any number of directions.  If there are parental concerns about a teen abusing alcohol, the first steps often start with the knowledge that a problem exists.  Dr. Meeves offers the following warning signs a teen is abusing alcohol.

Warning signs a teen is abusing alcohol:

Sudden change in attitude

  • Issues at school, or drop in academic performance
  • Truancy
  • Withdrawal, isolation or depression
  • New friends
  • Lack of interest in anything besides hanging out with friends
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or sports
  • Increased secrecy about possessions, activities or whereabouts
  • Aggressive, rebellious behavior
  • Change in sleeping and or eating habits
  • Deteriorating family relationships
  • New or increased use of mouthwash or mints to mask alcohol smell
  • Evidence of alcohol – empty bottles, etc.
  • Cash flow problems
  • Alcohol or money goes missing from your home

Obviously, not all of these signs point specifically to an abuse of alcohol, but these signs often give a strong suspicion that a teen is drinking inappropriately and parents should err on the side of caution and take it seriously.

Talk openly with your teen about your concerns, and ask for help from a pediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist if you need to. Get a professional assessment to find out what is going on; screening for drugs or alcohol may be in order.

Put an emphasis on safety and weigh the following information carefully:

  • Teens who abuse alcohol are more likely to have unsafe sex than those who do not drink
  • Teens who drink heavily are three times more likely to try and hurt themselves (self-harm, suicide, etc.) than those who don’t drink
  • Alcohol is a gateway drug – those who abuse it are more likely to go on to abuse other drugs

Keep a close eye on a teen’s behavior and his or her relationship with alcohol.

For more information regarding teens and substance abuse, go to: http://www.crchealth.com/troubled-teenagers/teenage-substance-abuse/

Teen Internet Use on the Rise

Teen Internet Use on the Rise

The 2010 Pew Research study reveals some staggering facts about teen internet use. While we know teens will be spending much of their free time online, it is important to keep tabs on your children and make sure that their internet use is monitored and safe. Knowing some of the facts about teen internet use, may help you understand what is typical and what to look for. Internet use is a great place to build and establish trust and responsibility with your teen by setting boundaries and teaching your teen to set her own as well. This is an area where she can show you that she can be trusted and that she will not abuse her time online.

According to the Pew Research Study:

  • there was a 20 percent increase in teen (ages 12-17 years) internet use from 2000 to 2009.
  • Seventy three percent of teens went online in 2000 versus 93 percent (20 percent increase) in 2009;
  • Nearly 73 percent of teens go online for social networking reasons, compared to just 55 percent of teens who did so three years ago;
  • Sixty-two percent of teens use the internet for news and politics;
  • Seventeen percent go online to gather information on topics that may be too “uncomfortable” to broach with a parent or guardian, such as issues relating to drug use and sexual health;
  • Thirty one percent of teens get health, dieting or physical fitness information from the internet and;
  • Only 14 percent of teens blog, compared to 28 percent three years ago.