Halloween decorations are up, costumes have been decided, and Halloween candy is taking over the kitchen pantry. An organization located in Pinellas County, called the LiveFree! Coalition, wants to remind parents that with Halloween comes the all-too-real reality of teens engaging in dangerous activities.
Halloween isn’t just about eating candy and carving pumpkins. Teenagers can take advantage of the freedom of being able to roam the streets while under disguise. Excitement levels are at an all -time high and this can become a particularly dangerous time for teens. This year Halloween falls on a Friday night, which can further lead to teenagers planning for house parties, underage drinking and other dangers as they don’t have to worry about school the next day.
According to an annual survey of U.S. youth, three-fourths of 12th graders and more than two-thirds of 10th graders have consumed alcohol. Also, when youth drink, they tend to drink excessively; often binge-drinking (defined as five or more drinks on an occasion).
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism report on underage drinking reports that parents who carefully monitor their teens activities, who are “bonded” or close to the teen, involved at school and home, and who practice effective discipline are usually more successful in preventing underage drinking. A campaign that LiveFree! supports is, “Talk. They Hear You.” and this powerful campaign has a strong impact on teens’ lives.
Below are easy and practical tips from LiveFree! that parents can use to help keep them teens during Halloween:
1. Encourage your teen to stay at home and hand out candy instead of going out unsupervised. They can still dress up but they will be under your roof and can admire kid’s costumes.
2. If your teens do go out, give your teenager a curfew. Suggest a parent chaperone go with them as well.
3. Make sure your teenager has their cellphone charged and on them at all time
4. Hide your alcohol. While you’re busy handing out candy, teens may think you are not paying attention and sneak alcohol/
5. Make sure your house is well-lit as this will discourage unsafe behavior. Tell your teens to speak up if they see something dangerous happening.
6. Encourage your teen to create a kid-friendly haunted house or carve pumpkins with friends as safe alternative activities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk drivers kill more than three times as many people on Halloween as they do on New Year’s Eve. You may be hesitant to tell your teens they can’t drive anywhere on Halloween but keeping your teens and community safe on Halloween involves a strong commitment from young adults parents.
“Halloween poses a risk for teens to dress up and experiment with drugs or alcohol,” says Daphne Lampley of LiveFree! Coalition. “Adults play a crucial role in preventing unsafe behavior in teens. It can all start with a simple talk.”
“Outside influences such as celebrities, movies and friends will always be present, but it’s crucial that you discuss smart decision-making with your teenager. Prevention starts at home. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, they really do hear you.”