Staying Connected With Teens Helps Reduce Risky Summertime Behavior

June is here, and with it comes summer break for most teens. Many parents see it as a break for them, too – a break from the routine of making sure teens get up and off to school, stay caught up with homework, and prepared for quizzes and tests. But parenting is a year-round job, and more free time might mean your teen will engage in more risky behaviors, including alcohol or experimenting with drugs for the first time.

Surveys have shown that during the school year most risk-taking behaviors for youth happen between the hours of 3 and 6 pm. Summertime increases that window of risk because supervision and structured time decreases as freedom and time with friends increases. Teens ages 12 to 17 who are often bored are 50% more likely to smoke, drink, get drunk, and use illegal drugs than their non-bored peers, according to a survey conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

The Prevention Action Alliance offers the following tips to try to help your teens make good choices:

  • Be aware: Know that substance use increases in the summer months.
  • Discuss the dangers of substance abuse: Children whose parents talk with them regularly about the dangers of drinking, smoking and using other drugs are up to 50% less likely to use in the first
  • Establish summertime rules: This includes summer curfew, rules on friends coming over when adults are away, requiring them to answer your call or text when it comes, etc. Put the summer-specific rules on paper and post it as a reminder, that way, there’s no excuse for
  • Monitor their whereabouts: Be sure they give you the Who, What, Where, When, Why & How before they head out the door: Who are they going to hang out with? What will they do? Where are they going? When are they leaving and when will they be back? Why are they wanting it? How are they planning to get there and get home? Let them know that you understand that plans can change, but if they do, they must run it by you before they go forward with those

For more information on how to help children stay alcohol and drug-free, visit, or call the health department at 301-334-7730 or 301-895-3111.