What the kids are doing these days

Published 12:04 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Now, I just want to start by being honest. I’m only 24 — not that much older than the teens partaking in the disturbing trends I wrote about in this week’s “In Depth in Shelby County” story.

I remember some of the choices I made in high school, and I also remember that some of them weren’t that great. I made mistakes, as does every other teenager, and I was probably lucky to leave my teen years with no lasting effects — just learning experiences and growing pains.

However, I never got involved with the things our local educators and administrators are seeing.

I know some of the teens in my high school were probably addicted to prescription pills, but I never saw it. Booze and marijuana were prevalent where I went to school. I especially never heard about “cocktail parties,” where kids are downing handfuls of pills, or salvia, basically a synthetic marijuana substitute.

My friends and I also didn’t partake in sexting — any flirting was done over the phone or in person.

I suppose at that point, cyber-bullying wasn’t even a real possibility -— Facebook didn’t yet exist, and websites such as MySpace weren’t as widely used as they are today.

My parents were a huge part of my life when I was growing up, and they still are today. Their influence probably saved me from making even bigger mistakes.

If you have a child, even if he or she is years away from high school, I urge you to begin thinking of how you will approach such subjects with your child. It’s not enough to just say, “Don’t do that,” and expect that to work.

Peer pressure is greater than ever these days, and teenagers need their parents or guardians to have the courage to say, “I have a right to know what’s going on with you. Talk to me.”

I always talked to my parents because they made an effort to talk to me, and they tried not to judge me or put me down. My husband and I hope we will be smart enough and strong enough to make that effort with our own children, whenever we have them.

Do the same with your kids. That effort could end up preventing them from making the kind of mistakes they’ll never get over.